WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moderna reported that it has reached a $400 million agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the rights to use publicly-funded technology that was key to the success of the NIH-Moderna COVID vaccine. Public Citizen was the first to reveal that Moderna and others had used a publicly-funded, NIH-engineered solution to freeze spike proteins to keep their shape, which was a crucial step for producing a stronger immune response in the COVID vaccines. Columbia Law School clinical professor Christopher Morten subsequently demonstrated Moderna’s infringement of the patent.
Public Citizen, PrEP4All and other advocacy groups called on the U.S. government to ensure accessible pricing and equitable global access in its license negotiations. Next month, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, chaired by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to discuss Moderna’s proposed price hike on the vaccine. Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines program at Public Citizen, released the following statement:
“This remedy for Moderna’s use of publicly-owned technology key to its success is not remotely sufficient.
“Moderna’s catch-up payment to NIH amounts to little more than 1% of its $36 billion in global sales. That modest return to taxpayers will be dwarfed, probably many times over, by Moderna’s harmful and grotesque proposed 400% price spike.
“Considering Moderna’s soup-to-nuts reliance on U.S. government support, the public deserves a much better deal, including vaccines made available free or at cost today.
“The government should have insisted on affordability from the start, and should insist on essentially free vaccines today. There would be no NIH-Moderna vaccine without the NIH.
“Fortunately, Moderna will be held to account on March 22, when CEO Stephane Bancel will appear before the Senate and the people at Chairman Bernie Sanders’ hearing on Moderna’s outrageous vaccine price spike.”