Moderna is fighting a shareholder proposal that requires the pharmaceutical group to open its Covid-19 vaccine technology to poorer countries and explain why its prices are so high given the amount of state aid it has received.
Legal & General Investment Management, a London-based asset manager, said Moderna shareholders deserve to know how U.S. government funding for Covid vaccines affects “access to such products, such as pricing.”
Having received at least $ 2.5 billion from the U.S. government, Moderna has sent vaccines to mostly rich countries and has not transferred its technology to manufacturers in low- or middle-income countries, LGIM said.
Modern is struggling Proposal at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Companies routinely challenge shareholder proposals at the SEC and often win.
Separately, Oxfam has teamed up with other investors to petition Moderna and Pfizer to urge companies to do more on sharing vaccine technology. For Moderna, both shareholder proposals represent the first investor petitions the company has faced since it went public in 2018.
The Massachusetts-based modern did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Modern was under pressure to lower prices and expand production to poorer countries. Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator from Massachusetts, he told the Financial Times last month that both Moderna and Pfizer had to “do more to address the unacceptable differences in global access to Covid-19 vaccines, including the dramatic expansion of vaccine production around the world”.
The two are projected to earn more than $ 93 billion next year from the sale of the Covid vaccine alone.
Modern is in a particularly unusual position because it developed its vaccine in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Barney Graham, one of the NIH scientists involved in the development process, told the FT earlier this year that the government’s role in vaccine production will give him a “lever” over Modern when it comes to pricing.
But Moderna has strongly abandoned that suggestion, recently issuing a public statement rejecting the idea that Graham and two other government scientists co-invented the vaccine.
In its request to the SEC to block LGIM’s shareholder proposal, Moderna said it already plans to release additional information on vaccine pricing by February 15th. “The company believes it will largely implement [LGIM] proposal before submitting his / her proxy [voting] material, ”he writes.
LGIM has previously co-sponsored shareholder proposals in Eli Lilly and Gilead Sciences for the division of chairmanship and executive roles in companies. In 2019, LGIM jointly submitted a proposal to BP regarding carbon emissions.