The American biotechnology company Moderna launched a judicial offensive against Pfizer and BioNTech, accusing them of infringe patents on essential technologies for its messenger RNA vaccine against covid 19. “Moderna is convinced that the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech infringes patents filed by Moderna between 2010 and 2016that cover Moderna’s core messenger RNA technology,” said the company, which intends to retain control of technologies that can be used in many other contexts.
Moderna highlights that it uses its platform of technologies related to messenger RNA for the development of treatments against influenza, HIV, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and different types of cancer.
Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech were the first companies in the sector to manufacture coronavirus vaccinesvery shortly after the start of the pandemic, thanks to messenger RNA technology, which allows human cells to be ordered to manufacture proteins present in the virus in order to accustom the immune system to recognizing and neutralizing it.
Until then, vaccines were based on weakened or inactivated forms of the virus to train the body to defend itself, and the development of remedies, as well as clinical trials to verify their safety, could take several years. The use of messenger RNA technology in Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, which are among the most injected in the worldit was the culmination of four decades of research that overcame numerous obstacles.
The flexibility afforded by messenger RNA and the ability to make the body produce antigens on its own suggest that much can be expected from this technique against other diseases.
Moderna announced that it filed a lawsuit in the state of Massachusetts, in the United States, and in Düsseldorf, in Germany.
For their part, Pfizer/BioNTech stressed that they had not yet fully examined the lawsuit. But both said they were “surprised” by Moderna’s initiativegiven that the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine “is based on BioNTech’s proprietary messenger RNA technology developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer.” They also assured that they were prepared to defend themselves “vigorously.”
Is not the first patent infringement lawsuit over innovative messenger RNA technology. Moderna had been sued by small biotech companies Arbutus Biopharma Corporation and Genevant Sciences and BioNTech in Germany for fellow countryman CureVac. BioNTech and Pfizer responded in turn to CureVac by denouncing it before the United States justice system.
“We brought these lawsuits to protect the groundbreaking messenger RNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in, and patented in the decade before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the head of Modern, Stephane Bancel.
Moderna highlights that it had committed, as of October 2020, not to initiate any intellectual property lawsuits while the pandemic was at its peak, but that now entered a new stage. The company is not demanding that Pfizer/BioNTech withdraw its vaccine from the market, but rather financial compensation, only for the vaccines sold since March.
Pfizer expects that in 2022 its vaccine against covid-19 will generate $32 billion in sales.