Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach sues Pfizer over marketing of COVID-19 vaccine

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach is suing the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, alleging it deceptively marketed its COVID-19 vaccine.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Thomas County, comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a similar lawsuit in November. Kobach said at a news conference on Monday that Kansas is one of several states taking legal action against Pfizer. The company said in a statement the lawsuit is without merit.

Kobach, a Republican, is launching the legal challenge as the pandemic has begun to fade in the public consciousness. But anger at vaccine manufacturers, including conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, are rampant among parts of the right.

As vaccines became available, Kansans had to decide whether to get the vaccine and which one to take, Kobach said. “In such an environment, it is imperative Kansans making that decision receive the truth,” he said.

Pfizer made misrepresentations of a “safe and effective” vaccine and that the company said the vaccine was safe even as it knew it was connected to troubling side effects, such as myocarditis and pericarditis, the legal complaint alleges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found instances of myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammations involving the heart, rarely occur.

Pfizer also said that patient safety was its top priority and that it follows “diligent safety and monitoring protocols.

“We are proud to have developed the COVID-19 vaccine in record time in the midst of a global pandemic and saved countless lives. The representations made by Pfizer about its COVID-19 vaccine have been accurate and science-based. The Company believes that the state’s case has no merit and will respond to the suit in due course,” Pfizer said in an unsigned statement.

The lawsuit is being brought over alleged violations of Kansas’ consumer protections laws. Even though vaccine recipients didn’t pay for doses, Kobach said consumer protection laws still apply. The lawsuit alleges Pfizer violated prior consent judgments with Kansas.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, but doesn’t specify an amount.