COVID: Moderna sues Pfizer over vaccines

Moderna is suing Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for patent infringement in the development of the first COVID-19 vaccine approved in the United States, alleging they copied technology Moderna developed years ago epidemic.

Moderna said the lawsuit, seeking unspecified monetary damages, is being filed with the United States District Court in Massachusetts and the Dusseldorf District Court in Germany, Moderna said in a press release. on Friday.

“We are filing these lawsuits to defend the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars to create and patented during the decade before the pandemic. COVID-19,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in the statement.

Moderna Inc. own, and in partnership with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE are two of the first groups to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

In just a decade, Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been an innovator in messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology that has enabled COVID-19 vaccine development at unprecedented speed .

The approval process that previously took years was completed in months, thanks in large part to a breakthrough in vaccine mRNA, which helps human cells make a protein that triggers an immune response.

Germany-based BioNTech has also been active in this area, partnering with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine to Pfizer/BioNTech in December 2020, a week later to Moderna.

Moderna alleges that Pfizer/BioNTech, without permission, copied the mRNA technology that Moderna patented between 2010 and 2016, before COVID-19 emerged in 2019 and exploded into global consciousness. demand in early 2020.

In the early stages of the pandemic, Moderna said it would not enforce its COVID-19 patent to help others develop their own vaccines, especially for low-income and low-income countries. medium. But in March 2022, Moderna said it expected companies like Pfizer and BioNTech to respect its intellectual property rights. It said it would not seek damages for any operations before March 8, 2022.

Patent litigation is not uncommon in the early stages of new technology.

Pfizer and BioNTech have faced numerous lawsuits from other companies who say their partners’ vaccines infringe their patents. Pfizer/BioNTech says it will defend its patents vigorously.

Germany’s CureVac 5cv.DE, for example, also filed a lawsuit against BioNTech in Germany in July. BioNTech responded in a statement that their work is original.

Moderna has also been sued for patent infringement in the United States and is in a dispute with the US National Institutes of Health over the rights to the mRNA technology.

In Friday’s statement, Moderna said Pfizer/BioNTech had misappropriated two types of intellectual property.

One concerns the mRNA structure that Moderna says its scientists started developing in 2010 and was the first to confirm in human trials in 2015.

“Pfizer and BioNTech have entered four different vaccine candidates into clinical trials, including options that could lead Moderna’s innovative path,” Moderna said in its statement.

The second alleged breach involved encoding a full-length spike protein that Moderna said its scientists developed while creating a vaccine against the virus. coronavirus causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Although a MERS vaccine never made it to market, its development helped Moderna quickly launch its COVID-19 vaccine.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Caroline Humer and Edwina Gibbs)

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