Sunday, 4 Jun 2023

Moderna accuses Pfizer of stealing its mRNA technology

Vaccine wars: Pfizer countersues rival Moderna after being accused of stealing its mRNA technology to create Covid vaccine — amid multi-billion-dollar legal battle

  • Moderna is suing its competitors Pfizer and BioNTech over the Covid vaccine
  • The firm alleged the two companies copied its technology patented 2010-2016 
  • Pfizer has most recently dubbed Moderna’s lawsuit as ‘revisionist history’ 

Pfizer has countersued Moderna after being accused of stealing mRNA technology to create the Covid vaccine.

The ongoing legal battle now sees Pfizer and its partner BioNTech reject its rival’s claims it copied the shot.

Pfizer has accused Moderna of rewriting history, and dubbed its lawsuit ‘revisionist history’.

Manhattan-based Pfizer requested from a federal court in Boston that Moderna’s lawsuit be dismissed.

Moderna is alleging that its two major competitors in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines, Pfizer and BioNTech used its patented mRNA technology in the development of the jabs (file photo)

Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is genetic material which tells the body how to make proteins.

The mRNA Covid vaccine teaches cells in the body how to make a protein which sets off an immune response.

The immune response generates antibodies, so that if the body is exposed to the real virus later, the body will recognize it and know how to fight it off.

First discovered in the 1960s, Pfizer’s Covid shot was the first mRNA product to get full FDA approval in the US.


Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, fired back at Moderna on Monday in a patent lawsuit over their rival Covid-19 vaccines.

They are seeking dismissal of the lawsuit in Boston federal court and an order that Moderna’s patents are invalid and not infringed.

Moderna first sued Pfizer in August, when it accused the company of violating its rights in three patents related to innovations that Moderna said it pioneered before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moderna has also filed a related lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech in Germany. All three companies are also embroiled in US patent disputes with other companies over the vaccines.

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company and BioNTech are confident in their intellectual property and will ‘vigorously defend’ against Moderna’s claims.

In its lawsuit, Moderna asked for an undisclosed amount of money damages from Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines sold since March.

Pfizer’s vaccine made over $26.4 billion for the New York-based company in the first nine months of 2022, according to company filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Meanwhile, Moderna sold over $13.5 billion worth of its vaccine over the same period.

Pfizer and BioNTech said in their Monday filing that they developed their vaccine independently, calling Moderna’s lawsuit ‘revisionist history’ and arguing its patents ‘far exceed its actual contributions to the field’.

The companies argued that Moderna ignored the contributions of their scientists to foundational mRNA technology, as well as those of researchers at the US government’s National Institutes of Health.

Moderna also waived its right to bring the lawsuit when it pledged not to sue other Covid-19 vaccine makers during the pandemic, the filing said, arguing the pandemic has not yet ended.

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