Pharmaceutical firm tied to 2024 candidate Ramaswamy tangled in lawsuits on COVID vax technology

Genevant Sciences, which has sued Pfizer and Moderna, is mostly owned by Roivant Sciences, founded by Vivek Ramaswamy.

Published: July 14, 2023 11:29pm

Updated: July 15, 2023 9:18am

A pharmaceutical company tied to 2024 GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is involved in lawsuits over COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology.

Genevant Sciences, a portfolio company of Roivant Sciences, is suing Moderna and Pfizer over patented COVID vaccine technology while also being sued by another biotech company linked with Pfizer’s vaccine.

Ramaswamy founded Roivant Sciences, and was CEO of the biotech research company from 2014 until 2021. He continued as its board chairman until February of this year before he stepped down. He is not involved in the lawsuit.

Genevant Sciences, along with partner Arbutus Biopharma Corporation, sued Moderna in February 2022 over alleged patent infringement, followed by a lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech in April this year. 

MRNA is similar to RNA, short for Ribonucleic acid, which is present in all living cells and that has structural similarities to DNA.

The lawsuit against Moderna alleges that the pharmaceutical and biotech company infringed on an Arbutus patent for a lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery platform for the vaccine, which was necessary “to safeguard the mRNA and deliver it into cells.” The plaintiffs allege that the infringement occurred when Moderna didn’t request a license to use the LNP patents for COVID.

Genevant licenses Arbutus’ LNP technology.

Arbutus and Genevant “do not seek an injunction or otherwise to impede the sale, manufacture or distribution” of the vaccine, according to a press release. Instead, the companies “seek only fair compensation for the use of patented technology they developed with great effort and at great expense, without which Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine would not have been successful.”

In March this year, a federal court judge declined to partially dismiss the case against Moderna, allowing it to continue.

Moderna didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

In the April lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech for patent infringement, Arbutus and Genevant alleged that the companies “never paid Plaintiffs to use” the LNP technologies for the COVID vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Genevant declined to comment on its lawsuits against Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna.

Meanwhile, Arbutus and Genevant are facing a lawsuit from Acuitas Therapeutics, which was filed in March 2022.

According to the lawsuit, Acuitas, which “partnered with non-parties BioNTech and Pfizer to supply and license the LNP used in COMIRNATY,” the COVID vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, alleges that Arbutus and Genevant were not part of creating the technology used for the vaccine.

The defendants “had nothing to do with [the] success” of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID vaccine, according to the lawsuit.

“Neither has a COVID-19 vaccine, neither has created any component of such a vaccine, and neither has commercialized an LNP that can effectively wrap and protect any mRNA molecule,” the filing also states.

The lawsuit also alleges “Genevant seeks hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in unjustified royalties on sales of COMIRNATY. That demand hinders the ability of Acuitas, as well as its partners such as BioNTech and Pfizer, to freely research, develop, and commercialize therapeutics utilizing Acuitas’s LNP technology, including COVID-19 vaccines.”

According to the lawsuit, “non-party Roivant Sciences Ltd. owns approximately 84% of Genevant Sciences Ltd., and Arbutus owns the remaining approximately 16% of Genevant Sciences Ltd."

Genevant and Arbutus didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the Acuitas lawsuit.

Ramaswamy also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Acuitas told Just the News on Thursday that it doesn't "comment on matters before the court."

The patent lawsuits come as less Americans are getting the COVID vaccine boosters, and after vaccine mandates have been challenged in courts across the U.S. and eventually dropped.

The military vaccine mandate was rescinded at the end of last year, following President Biden signing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the $858 billion defense spending bill repealing the mandate.

The Biden administration ended the vaccine mandate for federal workers on May 11, when the COVID public health emergency ended.

Military members and workers across the country lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandates.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor in December last year, 38% of adults said that they either received the updated bivalent COVID booster dose or would soon.

Twelve percent of adults said they wanted to “wait and see” before getting the booster, while 13% said they only would if it was required. However, 9% said they wouldn’t get the new booster, and 27% were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, thus not eligible for the booster.

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