Ex-Pfizer employee charged with insider trading on unreleased Covid pill data

CNBC – Federal authorities charged a former Pfizer employee and his close friend Thursday with illegally trading shares based on non-public trial results on the pharmaceutical company’s Covid antiviral pill Paxlovid.

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission both announced respective insider trading charges against Amit Dagar, Pfizer’s senior statistical programming lead at the time of the trades, and his friend Atul Bhiwapurkar.

Dagar, who helped manage and analyze Paxlovid clinical trial data, and Bhiwapurkar “participated in an insider trading scheme to reap illicit profits from options trading based on inside information” about the then-unreleased Paxlovid results in November 2021, according to the DOJ.

The two individuals bought their Pfizer call options a day before the data was made public. Once the trial results were publicized, Dagar and Bhiwapurkar sold their call options and generated “significant profits” totaling more than $350,000, the DOJ said in a release.

“The charges in this case relate to the personal conduct of a former Pfizer employee in violation of the company’s policies,” a Pfizer spokesperson told CNBC. “Pfizer is cooperating with the government’s investigation” … [main story continues below]

Covid drove Pfizer’s 2022 revenue to a record $100 billion

  • Pfizer sold $37.8 billion of its Covid vaccine in 2022, exceeding 2021 sales which were nearly as high 
  • Sales of the antiviral pill Paxlovid added another $18.9 billion in to Pfizer’s results 2022 | SOURCE: CNBC
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Dagar, 44, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, was arrested Thursday morning and charged with four counts of securities fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the DOJ said. He was also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Bhiwapurkar, 45, of Milpitas, California, was also arrested early Thursday and charged with two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, according to the DOJ.

Patrick Smith, an attorney representing Dagar, said his client denies the allegations and “looks forward to defending himself in court.”

Smith also said “nobody at Pfizer ever told” Dagar the results of the Paxlovid trial … READ MORE. 

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