The pharmaceutical company made over $37 billion in the last two years thanks to their COVID jabs.
Since 2021, Moderna has received help to fill their coffers from governments worldwide in promoting the shots. Still, the pharmaceutical company also received particular assistance from the U.S. government in developing the shots.
Moderna received billions of taxpayer dollars to fund vaccine development for COVID-19 through Operation Warp Speed.
Moderna’s COVID vaccine, marketed as Spikevax, and the related booster are the only commercial products it has developed. Several other vaccines and cell therapy-based treatments using mRNA technology are in various stages of development, including vaccines for HIV, Zika, RSV, influenza, and even three for cancer.
Spikevax was created with the assistance of a few scientists at the U.S. National Institute of Health.
While Moderna raked in unfathomable profits from the shots — $18.4 in 2021 and $19.2 in 2022 — the company didn’t appear to want to share the windfall with the government scientists that helped create it.
[Moderna] claims it had no choice under the “strict rules” of American patent law to list only its own scientists “as the inventors on these claims.”
But the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases disagrees.A spokesperson for the government research arm – housed within the NIH – said that “its own thorough review” had determined that scientists Kizzmekia Corbett, Barney Graham, and John Mascola also deserved to be named as inventors.
“Moderna has made a serious mistake here in not providing the kind of co-inventorship credit to people who played a major role in the development of the vaccine that they are now making a fair amount of money off of,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told Reuters last week.
Source: CBS News
While some of the dispute with the NIH has been resolved, another, perhaps bigger fracas is still going on.
As Moderna racked up tens of billions of dollars in sales of its coronavirus vaccine, the company held off on paying for the rights to a chemical technique that scientists said it had borrowed from government-funded research and used in its wildly successful shot.
But Moderna and the government have now reached an agreement. The company said on Thursday that it had made a $400 million payment for the technique that will be shared by the National Institutes of Health and two American universities where the method was invented…
…Moderna is still locked in a separate high-stakes dispute with the N.I.H. over who invented the central component of the vaccine, the genetic sequence that helps recipients produce an immune response.
The N.I.H. said its scientists, some of whom had been collaborating for years with Moderna, had helped to design that sequence. Moderna also received nearly $10 billion in taxpayer funding to develop and test the vaccine and to provide doses to the federal government. The company has sold roughly $36 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines worldwide.
Source: New York Times
Let’s not forget Moderna is fighting tooth and nail to keep its claws on the mRNA patents and is suing Pfizer and BioNTech.
All of that is the backdrop to this. After the billions in funding, assistance in sequencing the genome, and using the government-developed technique to develop the shots, Moderna is throwing the NIH under the bus in a separate patent lawsuit.
Arbutus Biopharma Corp. and Genevant Sciences are suing Moderna, alleging that the company had infringed on their patent for the lipid nanoparticle technology used in the COVID shots. They claim their scientists took years of challenging work to develop the technology. If they win, they could earn royalties from Moderna, and with the billions in profit they’re raking in, it could be a substantial sum.
A few years ago, a few years ago, an article from STAT News revealed that many scientists believed that Moderna was struggling with the technology as recently as 2017.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel talked up his company’s “unbelievable” future before a standing-room-only crowd at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference here. He promised that Moderna’s treatment for a rare and debilitating disease known as Crigler-Najjar syndrome, developed alongside biotech giant Alexion Pharmaceuticals, would enter human trials in 2016.
It was to be the first therapy using audacious new technology that Bancel promised would yield dozens of drugs in the coming decade…
…But mRNA is a tricky technology. Several major pharmaceutical companies have tried and abandoned the idea, struggling to get mRNA into cells without triggering nasty side effects.
Bancel has repeatedly promised that Moderna’s new therapies will change the world, but the company has refused to publish any data on its mRNA vehicles, sparking skepticism from some scientists and a chiding from the editors of Nature.
Source: STAT News
They may have stolen the technology, but it’s unclear if they did, which explains the ongoing lawsuit.
Moderna’s response to the legal action brought against them is that they shouldn’t be the target at all — it should be the U.S. government because the vaccine was developed and was made for the government’s vaccine rollout.
Despite the backing of the U.S. government, Moderna failed to persuade a federal judge it should not have to face a patent lawsuit over its COVID-19 vaccine and that the United States should have been sued instead @blakebrittain https://t.co/3IfejzMWrm pic.twitter.com/4khzi1Arnv
— Reuters Legal (@ReutersLegal) March 13, 2023
In a bizarre twist, the government is backing Moderna’s claim.
Moderna asked the court to dismiss the case last May. It said the United States was the proper target of the claims because the company made its vaccine for the government’s nationwide vaccination effort, citing a law that was previously used to keep patent disputes from interfering with the supply of war materials during World War One.
Goldberg first ruled against Moderna in November. He said Moderna had not yet shown that the shots were made “for the government,” and that the government may have been an “incidental beneficiary” instead.
The U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing last month that it supports Moderna’s position, arguing that the company should not be liable for shots provided under its contract with the government as part of Operation Warp Speed.
The Biden administration has offered to take on the liability. (of course, it’s our money, not his why should Biden care?).
Now, the Biden administration is attempting to offer the company another windfall. Last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a statement of interest in the Moderna lawsuit, offering to take on liability for the company’s alleged patent infringement. Such a move would result in the Treasury Department being responsible for potential damages from the suit, rather than Moderna itself.
The day after that statement of interest was filed, Moderna announced an agreement to offer its COVID-19 vaccine to the uninsured and underinsured at no cost following pushback from Democratic lawmakers against the proposed price hike.
Moderna’s defense in the lawsuit isn’t that the company didn’t steal the critical technology it’s accused of stealing. Instead, the company claims that, thanks to an obscure hundred-year-old statute, liability in the case actually belongs to the U.S. government because it funded the development and purchase of the end product in question.
Source: Daily Caller
It’s quite an offer considering the country’s high inflation and economic instability, not to mention the recent bank bailouts.
Remember that Moderna’s 40+ products in development will also use mRNA technology and, therefore, rely on the same patent.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel is testifying on Wednesday before the Senate’s Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions (HELP) Committee regarding drug prices after Moderna proposed quadrupling the price of its COVID-19 shot.
It remains to be seen if either the Chair of the HELP committee, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), or ranking Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) will bring up the current patent lawsuit in the hearing or just focus on drug costs.
Cross-posted with Clash Daily