Pfizer (PFE) shares slumped lower Friday after rival vaccine maker Moderna (MRNA) said it would sue the pharma giant, as well as its German partner BioNTech (BNTX) , for allegedly copying its messenger-RNA technologies.
Moderna said it will seek unspecified relief in both a U.S. and German court after altering its pledge not to enforce patents related to its mRNA-1273 coronavirus vaccine, known as Spikevax in wealthy countries. The drugmaker said it had expected Pfizer and Moderna to consider a “commercially reasonable” licensing agreement as a result, but have to date “failed to do so”.
Moderna said it will file its suit in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts as well as the Regional Court of Dusseldorf.
“We believe that Pfizer and BioNTech unlawfully copied Moderna’s inventions, and they have continued to use them without permission,” said Moderna’s chief legal officer Shannon Thyme Klinger. “Outside of AMC 92 countries, where vaccine supply is no longer a barrier to access, Moderna expects Pfizer and BioNTech to compensate Moderna for Comirnaty’s ongoing use of Moderna’s patented technologies.
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“Our mission to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients by delivering on the promise of mRNA science cannot be achieved without a patent system that rewards and protects innovation,” Thyme Klinger added.
Pfizer shares were marked 1.15% lower in pre-market trading following Moderna’s allegations, indicating an opening bell price of $47.35 each.
BioNTech’s U.S.-listed stock fell 2.7% to $144.50 each while Moderna shares were marked 0.4% lower at $141.49 each.
Earlier this year, Moderna re-affirmed its full-year forecast for Covid vaccine sales, forecasting overall revenues of around $21 billion, with orders weighted slightly into the second half of the year.
Pfizer, which notched around $8.85 billion in Comirnaty sales over the three months ending in June, said sales of its vaccines and Covid treatments should combine for around $54 billion in total revenues this year.