Alnylam patent lawsuit against Pfizer, Moderna highlights escalating legal pressure on big pharma players

The potential for lucrative settlements in the multi-billion-dollar COVID-19 vaccine market adds further significance to these legal battles

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New Delhi: Biotech company Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has filed a third patent lawsuit against Pfizer and Moderna, alleging unauthorized use of its proprietary lipid nanoparticle (LNP) vaccine delivery technology in their COVID-19 vaccines.
This move highlights the escalating legal pressure on big pharma companies as they face multiple claims related to LNP technology, with Alnylam seeking substantial royalty payments. The potential for lucrative settlements in the multi-billion-dollar COVID-19 vaccine market adds further significance to these legal battles, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Jay Patel, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “This decision is yet another example of companies involved with LNP development seeking legal action against big pharma companies that have used LNP technology in their COVID-19 vaccines. By filing an additional lawsuit, Alnylam aims to push Pfizer and Moderna into quick legal settlements. Given that GlobalData has projected that prophylactic COVID-19 vaccines will generate a total sales of $264 billion from 2021 to 2028, a settlement with either of these two industry giants could be highly lucrative.”
In the lawsuit against Moderna, Alnylam cited 2014 licensing discussions between the two companies, claiming that confidential information it had provided regarding its LNP technology was later used to accelerate the development of Moderna’s Spikevax. Alnylam’s litigation has some parallels with the similar lawsuits filed by Arbutus and Genevant against Moderna and Pfizer, which also cited similar unsuccessful licensing talks.
Patel concludes: “Genevant’s LNP platform was initially licensed to Alnylam as the basis for its polyneuropathy drug ONNPATRO and improved on by Alnylam thereafter, so it is little surprise that both companies adopted similar legal strategies in taking on Pfizer and Moderna, given the similarity between their own platforms. Moreover, Genevant’s initial legal success against Moderna may have also served as a positive indication to Alnylam regarding its own legal battle.”