Moderna COVID-19 vaccine patent dispute brought to court, says US NIH chief

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CHICAGO, Nov. 10 (Reuters) – Scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health played “a major role” in the development of Moderna Inc’s (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine and the agency intends to defend its claim as co-owner of the shooting patents, NIH director Dr Francis Collins told Reuters on Wednesday.

In a story first reported by the New York Times on Tuesday, Moderna excluded three NIH scientists as co-inventors of a central patent for the company’s multibillion-dollar COVID-19 vaccine in its request filed in July.

“I think Moderna made a big mistake here by not providing the kind of co-inventor credit to the people who played a major role in the development of the vaccine they are now making a fair amount of money with,” he said. Collins said. in an interview ahead of the Reuters Total Health conference, which runs virtually November 15-18.[[[[https://reutersevents.com/events/healthcare/]

Moderna forecasts sales of $ 15 billion to $ 18 billion in 2021 for the COVID-19 vaccine – its first and only commercial product – and up to $ 22 billion next year.

In an emailed statement to Reuters, Moderna acknowledged that scientists at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) played an “important role” in the development of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine from Moderna, but the company said it disagreed with the agency’s patent applications. .

Collins said the NIH had been trying to resolve the patent dispute with Moderna out of court for some time and had failed.

An employee demonstrates the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital in New York, United States, December 21, 2020. REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz

“But we are not finished. It is clear that this is something that the judicial authorities are going to have to understand,” he said.

The NIH has claimed that three of its scientists – Dr John Mascola, Dr Barney Graham and Dr Kizzmekia Corbett – helped design the genetic sequence used in Moderna’s vaccine and should be named on the patent application. Graham has since retired and Corbett now works at Harvard.

“It’s not a good idea to file a patent when you leave out important inventors, so that’s going to be sorted out as people take a closer look,” Collins told Reuters.

“I didn’t expect this to be the result of what had been a very friendly collaborative effort between scientists at NIH and Moderna for many years.”

In her statement, Moderna said: “We do not agree that scientists at NIAID co-invented claims on the sequence of mRNA-1273 itself. Only scientists at Moderna proposed the sequence. of the mRNA used in our vaccine. “

Moderna said the company recognized NIH scientists in other patent applications, such as those related to the assay. But for the basic patent, Moderna is only required to list Moderna scientists as the inventors of the sequence under strict rules of US patent law, he said.

“We are grateful for our collaboration with the scientists at NIH, appreciate their contributions and remain focused on collaborating to help patients,” the company added.

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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