Moderna shareholder Oxfam America today filed a whistleblower complaint against the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for publishing misleading statements and failing to disclose to shareholders and the SEC that it has been part of a prolonged patent dispute with scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Oxfam’s complaint alleges that, a year after receiving temporary emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Moderna has not been transparent about its patent dispute and buried critical information from its own investors. At the same time, according to Oxfam’s complaint, the company has been unable to produce enough doses to cover global need yet unwilling to share the technology with other manufacturers to ramp up production so everyone, everywhere could have access to this life-saving vaccine.
“No company, however powerful, should be able to dictate who lives and who dies, or exercise outsized influence over whether the global economy prospers or grinds to a halt,” said Diana Kearney, Senior Legal Advisor for Legal and Shareholder Advocacy at Oxfam America. “Instead of being transparent and using its life-saving technology to help curb the pandemic, Moderna is doing the opposite, obfuscating its patent dispute with the US government, ignoring the death and suffering of millions worldwide, and declining to share their technology to help alleviate the stranglehold that COVID-19 has placed on the global economy.”
In the complaint, Oxfam outlines how Moderna used vague language in its annual and quarterly reports about its patent dispute with the government, rather than openly disclose it, a framing that may violate securities laws and camouflages a battle that could negatively impact the value of its stock. For shareholders, the company’s refusal to share or transfer mRNA vaccine technology creates an additional reputational risk, as well as an economic one. The emergence of new variants and the resulting economic damage threatens to drag down returns across investors’ entire portfolio.
“Few times in history has a single corporation exercised such a massive influence on the world’s trajectory, impacting nearly all of humankind’s physical, mental, and financial health,” said Kearney. “Moderna is uniquely positioned to speed the end of the pandemic if it is transparent and shares its technology. In light of the company’s misguided pursuit of short-term profit over transparency for its investors, and the deadly consequences this may have for millions, Oxfam is calling on the SEC to investigate and help hold the company to account.”