Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla sees the pandemic as a chance for Big Pharma to "reset" its reputation. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Pfizer won't try to break the bank if it's able to develop a coronavirus vaccine, CEO Albert Bourla said yesterday during a virtual conference held by Goldman Sachs.

What he said: "If we were to implement free, open-market principles in pricing the product, we could go to huge prices and sell everything we can manufacture. But it would be unethical, I think. We will not do it, because that's really taking advantage of a situation, and people will not forget if you do that."

Yes, but: Bourla still said a vaccine is a "huge commercial opportunity," so Pfizer's definition of a fair price may differ from consumer advocates'.

  • Pfizer's best-selling drug is a vaccine, and the company has been criticized for raising its price.

Between the lines: The pandemic has taken some of the heat off the pharmaceutical industry's pricing tactics, and drug manufacturers are making an aggressive push to "refurbish their public image," Kaiser Health News reported last month.

  • Some of the industry's "strict critics ... are slowing down their criticism now," Bourla said during the conference. "Now is a great opportunity to reset all this."

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2020 - Health

Pew: 49% of Americans would not get COVID-19 vaccine if available today

A health care worker holds a COVID-19 vaccine at the Research Centers of America (RCA) in Hollywood, Florida on Aug. 13. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

51% of U.S. adults would "definitely or probably" get a coronavirus vaccine if the treatment were available today, while 49% would not, according to a Pew survey published Thursday.

Why it matters: All major political and demographic groups said they are less likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine since May, Pew finds, although Republicans and Black adults are least likely.

Updated Sep 25, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 980,000 worldwide on Thursday.

By the numbers: Globally, more than 32 million million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden

President Trump in the Oval Office on Sept. 17. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Pence's former lead staffer on the White House coronavirus pandemic response announced on Thursday that she plans to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, accusing President Trump of taking actions "detrimental to keeping Americans safe."

What she's saying: "It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything's okay when we know that it not. The truth is that he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself," said Olivia Troye, Pence's former homeland security, counterterrorism and coronavirus adviser.