Massachusetts pharmaceutical company sues Moderna and Pfizer for copyright infringement of Covid vaccine
Massachusetts pharmaceutical company sues Moderna and Pfizer over claims the companies used patented nanoparticle technology in COVID-19 vaccines
- Moderna and Pfizer are facing a lawsuit from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- The company alleges that its patented nanoparticle technology was used in the development of the big companies’ vaccines
- Both Pfizer and Moderna have been vocal opponents of intellectual property waivers and staunch protectors of their vaccine patents over the past year.
- Pfizer estimates it will earn $32 billion in vaccine sales this year, with Moderna predicting $19 billion
The two major COVID-19 vaccine makers in the United States are each facing a lawsuit alleging they infringed another company’s copyright in the development of their Covid vaccines.
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday filed separate lawsuits against fellow Cambridge pharmaceutical companies Moderna and New York-based Pfizer.
The lawsuits allege that the two giant Covid vaccine rollouts used lipid nanoparticle technology patented by Alnylam.
Pfizer and Moderna have both been vocal opponents of lifting patent rights for their vaccines to make their vaccines more available in the developing world, but there are now claims that their vaccine was manufactured in using technology they didn’t have in the first place.
Moderna is also facing a lawsuit from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and two smaller Vancouver-based biotech companies.
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals accuses Pfizer and Moderna of using its patented nanoparticle technology in a recently filed lawsuit
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines have been huge financial successes for both companies, and each has been strong advocates for keeping patent laws intact for their vaccine technology.
“Alnylam seeks fair compensation for the use of its technology based on patent claims for a broad class of biodegradable lipids invented over a decade ago and resulting from extensive research and investment,” the company wrote in a statement.
“The company is proud that this work has supported the rapid development of life-saving vaccines.”
Alnylam filed two lawsuits, one against each company, both making similar but different allegations.
He is asking for an undisclosed sum of money as damages.
The company says it shared confidential information about its nanoparticle technology with Moderna in 2013 and 2014.
At the time, the companies were discussing a licensing deal that never came to fruition.
Moderna reportedly used the shared information as part of its vaccine development.
The COVID-19 vaccine is Moderna’s only commercial product, and it has made the little-known biotech company a household name.
The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the Moderna vaccine has been used 209 million times to fully vaccinate 75 million people and boost another 41 million.
The company is also facing allegations from Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences, both based in Vancouver, Canada, regarding claims that the lipid nanoparticle technology used violated the Canadian companies’ patents.
“We seek fair compensation for Moderna’s use of our patented technology which was developed with great effort and great expense, without which Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine would not have succeeded,” said William Collier. , CEO of Arbutus, in a statement.
The company is also under federal fire right now as it fights an NIH lawsuit.
The NIH says the creation of the vaccine was a collaborative project between the agency and Moderna, while Moderna declined to include three NIH scientists in its patent application for the mRNA sequence that forms the basis of the vaccine.
Despite these issues, the vaccine rollout has been very successful for Moderna.
The company forecasts $19 billion in revenue this year, and CEO Stephane Bancel said earlier this year that he thinks Americans will need another of his company’s Covid hits this fall.
While Moderna was willing to let other companies recreate its vaccine and promised not to enforce its patent, it recently partially reversed the decision saying it would enforce it in the developed world.
Alnylam also accuses Pfizer of using its technology in the development of the New York-based company‘s vaccine.
Pfizer estimates $32 billion in revenue from vaccine sales this year, and that figure will rise if its offer to roll out a fourth Covid vaccine to Americans 65 and older is approved by regulators.
The company makes the most widely used jab in the United States and much of the Western world. It has been administered 328 million times to 124 million fully vaccinated people and fully vaccinated 53 million others.