Moderna sues Pfizer and its biotech partner BioNTech for allegedly infringing on the “foundational” patent for the mRNA technology, which is the basis for both companies’ COVID-19 vaccines.
Moderna announced the lawsuits in a press release issued Friday morning. It claims that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine “infringes patents Moderna filed between 2010 and 2016 covering Moderna’s basic mRNA technology.”
According to the company’s statement, Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax, was mainly developed with this groundbreaking technology. While Pfizer and BioNTech used this technology to create Comirnaty without Moderna’s consent.
Spikevax is the brand name for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, whereas Comirnaty is the brand name for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna suggests that Pfizer violates two distinct areas of the vaccine development process. First, Pfizer and BioNTech brought four distinct vaccine candidates into clinical testing, which included possibilities that would have strayed clear of Moderna’s innovative path.
The company stated that Pfizer and BioNTech finally chose to move through with a vaccination that has the same mRNA chemical alteration to its vaccine as Spikevax. The chemical alteration that prevents an unfavourable immune response when mRNA is injected into the body was created by modern scientists in 2010. They were the first to validate it in human trials in 2015.
In addition, the company states that despite having a variety of choices, Pfizer and BioNTech duplicated Moderna’s strategy “to encode for the full-length spike protein in a lipid nanoparticle formulation for a coronavirus.”
Moderna’s scientists used that technique in a previous coronavirus vaccination against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS.
However, Moderna is not attempting to prevent Pfizer from using a vaccine.
Moderna’s chief executive officer, Stéphane Bancel, said they are not trying to pressure Pfizer to withdraw its vaccine. Instead, the company recognizes the “lifesaving” impact of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines already in use worldwide.
He says Moderna wants compensation for the continued use of the technology in its vaccines. However, it would forego compensation for markets where Pfizer signed agreements with the U.S government. Therefore Pfizer would not be responsible for covering the cost of any resulting legal damages.
According to Moderna, it won’t pursue damages for using the vaccine before March 8, 2022.
As COVID-19 raged worldwide in October 2020, there was a tremendous international drive to expand immunization and get the shots into as many arms as possible. At that time, Moderna had publicly sworn not to enforce its patent on mRNA technology.
But as public health professionals progressively asserted that the pandemic was entering a new phase as of March 2022, Moderna modified that commitment. According to the company, it made clear that it will not pursue patents for COVID-19 vaccinations used in the 92 low-income countries that are a part of the COVAX initiative.
According to the company’s statement, Moderna anticipated that companies like Pfizer and BioNTech would respect its intellectual property rights and would accept a commercially reasonable licence should they request one for additional markets. However, Pfizer and BioNTech have failed in this regard.
As scientists and researchers work to more effectively target viruses like those that cause HIV/AIDS and cancer therapy, MRNA technology is likely to play a significant role in developing future vaccines.
Moreover, Moderna will play a significant role in supplying future boosters and modifications of the COVID-19 vaccines to the Canadian market after reaching an agreement to establish a plant in Montreal, Quebec, earlier this year.
Presented by CTC News