Moderna has said that it is suing Pfizer and BioNTech for infringement of patents central to its (Moderna’s) mRNA technology platform used to develop the COVID vaccine.
In a statement on Friday, the company accused Pfizer and BioNTech of copying the mRNA technology without its permission in order to develop their own vaccine known as Comirnaty.
Moderna alleged that the widely distributed Comirnaty COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech infringes on patents that it filed between 2010 and 2016, adding that mRNA technology was vital to the development of its COVID vaccine.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in the statement:
“We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This foundational platform, which we began building in 2010, along 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 after the pandemic struck.
“As we work to combat health challenges moving forward, Moderna is using our mRNA technology platform to develop medicines that could treat and prevent infectious diseases like influenza and HIV, as well as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and rare forms of cancer.”
In October 2020, Moderna vowed to forego enforcement of its COVID-related patents amid the pandemic, the company said. In March, however, the pandemic “entered a new phase and vaccine supply was no longer a barrier to access in many parts of the world,” the company added.
Moderna would never enforce patents in 92 middle- and low-income countries involved with a financing agreement at the global vaccine alliance Gavi, the company said. But, in other markets, Moderna expected competitors to respect intellectual property rights, it added.
In response to a request for comment, Pfizer said: “We have not been served and are unable to comment at this time.” BioNTech did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On August 23, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration announced the first approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 12 years of age and older.
Moderna COVID-19 vaccine received FDA approval on January 31, 2022, for individuals ages 18 years and older and is marketed under the brand name Spikevax.