Has Moderna infringed patents with its Covid vaccine?

Has Moderna infringed patents with its Covid vaccine?

This is how Moderna defends itself against the accusations of patent infringement advanced by the two American biotech companies Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences. All the details

Two small American pharmaceutical companies, Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences, have accused the modern giant of patent infringement for its Covid vaccine, but its CEO, Stéphane Bancel, replies that biotechs can only pursue their requests by asking royalties from the government. federal.


In February, in the federal court of Delaware, Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences filed a lawsuit against Moderna because they believe its Covid vaccine, Spikevax, violates their patents.

In fact, the two biotech companies claim that the vaccine contains components covered by their patents and therefore ask for royalties on the multi-billion dollar sales that derive from it.

The patents, the Wall Street Journal reports, involve tiny substances called lipid nanoparticles, which contain the genetic messenger RNA material of the vaccine and cause them to enter human cells when injected.


Moderna, however, says its vaccine does not infringe patents as it uses its own lipid nanoparticle technology. For this, last Friday he presented a motion to dismiss the accusations.

Not only. The vaccine maker added that even if he infringed patents, federal patent law protects him as a government contractor.

This attitude of wanting to put the blame on the government, however, could draw criticism according to some because Moderna has received substantial federal funding to develop its vaccine.


As explained by the Wall Street Journal , “Part of the law requires a patent holder to file a claim against the United States in the US Court of Federal Claims if they believe a product manufactured for the government by a contractor infringes the patent. The provision usually applies to defense contractors and not pharmaceutical companies, as the US government is usually not the only direct purchaser of drugs and vaccines. "

However, the US economic-financial newspaper recalls that during the pandemic the federal government was the only US buyer of Moderna's vaccine for use in the United States and, since the end of 2020, it has distributed them at no cost to recipients.

"This law provides important legal protection to licensed government suppliers and has played a vital role in encouraging companies, including Moderna, to step up and help the government fight the pandemic," Moderna said in a statement.

The law in question, Reuters notes, has been used in the past to prevent patent claims from interfering with the supply of war material during World War I.


In 2021, the WSJ reports, Moderna delivered 332 million doses of the vaccine to the government and recorded $ 5.4 billion in U.S. revenue.

And last year, as Fiercepharma recalls, Moderna's vaccine recorded sales of about $ 17.7 billion, while for 2022 a turnover of about $ 21 billion is expected.


In a note, Genevant Sciences stated that Moderna "instead of responding to the substance of our claims, is trying to shift the responsibility for its patent infringement onto US taxpayers".


Moderna already attracted some criticism last year when it refused to name scientists from the National Institutes of Health (Nih) with whom it collaborated on the development of the vaccine as inventors in a patent application. He later withdrew his application and said he appreciated the collaboration with the Nih.


Finally, Fiercepharma reminds that Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences are not the only ones to talk about a violation against Moderna.

In March, US biotech Alnylam sued both Moderna and Pfizer in separate lawsuits, arguing that the companies used a technology that Alnylam claims to have invented more than a decade ago.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/sanita/moderna-ha-violato-i-brevetti-con-il-suo-vaccino-anti-covid/ on Fri, 13 May 2022 08:00:19 +0000.