Moderna Files Lawsuit Against Pfizer Over COVID-19 Vaccine

In a pair of lawsuits filed in federal court and Germany, Moderna is suing Pfizer and BioNTech over allegations their rivals infringed on three patents used in its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna said it seeks monetary damages for its rivals’ alleged use of its technology after March 7.

The Biden administration plans a strong push after Labor Day to urge Americans to get another booster. This is in anticipation of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of updated versions of both Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines.

Both vaccines are called bivalent as they target the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants. They also provide protection from the original coronavirus strain, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 90% of new U.S. cases are of the BA.5 variant.

The Pfizer vaccine, now called Comirnaty, has been given in the U.S. hundreds of millions of times after being the first approved on an emergency basis.

Moderna’s argument, however, is that the other mRNA vaccine authorized several weeks later was developed without clearance to use the technology.

Moderna said the company spent billions of dollars developing the mRNA technology, and that it was patented in the decade before the COVID-19 pandemic. It claims the work began in 2010 and joined with patented developments on coronavirus in 2015 and 2016.

The company added that it is using its platform to combat other diseases such as influenza and HIV, along with “autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and rare forms of cancer.”

Moderna said that Pfizer had several choices to make with its vaccine and instead chose the one most like Moderna’s. The lawsuit also charges that Pfizer and BioNTech copied the procedure developed to deliver the vaccine into the body so that it is not attacked as a biological intruder.

For its part, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said they were surprised to be sued by Moderna. In a statement, the companies said that they worked together and used BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology to develop the vaccine.