Moderna faces shareholder pressure over vaccine costs

Moderna is fighting a shareholder proposal to ask the pharmaceutical group to open its Covid-19 vaccine technology to poorer countries and explain why its price is so high with the amount of its support. government they have received.

Legal & General Investment Management, a London-based asset manager, said Moderna shareholders deserve to know how US government funding of a Covid vaccine affects “access to such products, such as pricing”.

LGIM said that, after receiving at least $2.5 billion from the US government, Moderna shipped the vaccine to most of the rich countries and did not transfer its technology to manufacturers in countries with low income. low or moderate income.

Moderna is fighting offer at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Companies regularly challenge shareholder proposals at the SEC and often win.

Additionally, Oxfam has teamed up with other investors to file petitions with Moderna and Pfizer asking the companies to do more to share vaccine technology. For Moderna, both shareholder proposals represent the first investor petitions the company has faced since going public in 2018.

Massachusetts-based Moderna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moderna has come under pressure to reduce prices and expand production to poorer countries. Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, told the Financial Times Last month that both Moderna and Pfizer needed to “do more to address unacceptable disparities in global access to a Covid-19 vaccine, including significantly expanding production.” vaccines around the world”.

Both are forecast to make more than $93 billion next year in Covid vaccine sales alone.

Moderna is in a particularly unusual position because it developed its vaccine in conjunction with the US National Institutes of Health. Barney Graham, one of the NIH scientists involved in the development, told the FT earlier this year that the government’s role in vaccine production will give it “leverage” than Moderna when it comes to pricing.

But Moderna has strongly opposed the proposal, recently releasing a statement publicly rebutting the idea that Graham and two other government scientists co-invented the vaccine.

In its request that the SEC block LGIM’s shareholder proposal, Moderna said it planned to release additional information on the vaccine price setting on February 15. “The company believes it will make substantial progress. [LGIM] suggest before it sends its proxy [voting] materials,” it said.

LGIM previously co-submitted shareholder proposals at Eli Lilly and Gilead Sciences to split the roles of the company’s president and chief executive officer. In 2019, LGIM co-submitted a proposal to BP regarding carbon emissions.

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