Moderna filed a lawsuit Friday against Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, accusing the pharmaceutical companies of copying technology it developed before the pandemic in the production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Massachusetts as well as in Germany, is seeking an unspecified amount in damages over alleged patent infringement. This sets the stage for a massive legal conflict between Pfizer, a global pharmaceutical titan, and Moderna, a start-up biotechnology company based in Massachusetts.
Moderna Chief Executive Stephen Bansell said in the statement, “We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in building, and built before the COVID-19 pandemic. Patented during the decade.”
“This foundational platform, which we began building in 2010, together with our patented work on coronaviruses in 2015 and 2016, enabled us to produce a safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine in record time following the pandemic “
The US Food and Drug Administration initially granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer/BioNtech’s coronavirus vaccine, Comirnati, in December 2020 and then to Moderna’s SpikeVax the following week. Each company has made billions of dollars in shot sales.
Moderna and Pfizer’s two-shot jabs rely on mRNA technology to help patients battling the coronavirus. They work by injecting a genetic code for the spike protein that gives the coronavirus its pointed shape. That code – or mRNA – is wrapped in a little ball of fat and teaches human cells how to develop the safe spike protein that teaches the immune system to recognize the actual virus.
According to the lawsuit, Pfizer and BioNTech copied two important features of Moderna’s patented technologies that are critical to making the mRNA vaccine.
Moderna said in a statement, “When COVID-19 emerged, neither Pfizer nor BioNTech had Moderna’s experience in developing mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases, and they deliberately helped Moderna develop their own vaccine. Followed the lead.”
A Pfizer spokesman declined to comment, saying the company had not been given a copy of the lawsuit.
news with wire services