Moderna faces lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine

pharmafile | March 1, 2022 | News story | Manufacturing and Production  

Moderna has been accused of ‘hijacking’ technology from two smaller biotech firms – Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences – to produce its COVID-19 vaccine. The Canadian biopharmaceutical companies have accused Moderna of patent infringement.

This marks the latest in a growing list of patent disputes over COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.

William Collier, President and CEO of Arbutus, has shared that the company does not wish to impede the manufacturing and distribution of Moderna’s vaccine, but rather wants compensation for the patented technologies of Arbutus and Genevant used to develop the vaccine.

“It is well established in the scientific literature that the most significant technological hurdle to developing and deploying medicines using mRNA is engineering a safe and effective way to deliver the mRNA to human cells,” an Arbutus statement shares.

Arbutus and Genevant patented a lipid nanoparticle described as a “breakthrough”, that gives the vaccine the protective coating it needs to function. Without this nanoparticle, Arbutus and Genevant have stated, the vaccine would not have been discovered so quickly.

Moderna’s vaccine is the second most commonly used in the US, and has proven a significant financial success for the previously low-profile company.

“Scientists at Arbutus and Genevant have spent years developing and refining lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology, which has been licensed for various applications to many different third parties,” shared Genevant in a statement. The company elaborated: “With this technology, the RNA can travel through the human body to a target cell and through the target cell’s membrane before releasing the RNA. Without this crucial delivery technology, the RNA would quickly degrade in the body and be ineffective.”

William Collier commented further: “Arbutus and its licensee Genevant do not seek an injunction or otherwise seek to impede the sale, manufacture or distribution of MRNA-1273. However, we seek fair compensation for Moderna’s use of our patented technology that was developed with great effort and at great expense, without which Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine would not have been successful.”

Ana Ovey

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