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Inovio Subcontractor Hits Back With Lawsuit Against Coronavirus Vaccine Developer

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: INO) could be embroiled in a prolonged legal battle with its Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-headquartered subcontractor VGXI, Inc, after the subcontractor sued the pharma company. 

The Inovio Lawsuit:  VGXI filed a lawsuit this week in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, with the plaintiff accusing Inovio of breach of contract, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets and unjust enrichment, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

Inovio initiated legal proceedings against VGXI, a subsidiary of South Korea's GeneOne Life Sciences, in early June, accusing it of not transferring technical know-how to manufacture doses of INO-4800, Inovio's DNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.

Inovio's contention was that VGXI did not possess the wherewithal to scale up manufacturing, which is essential for getting regulatory clearance.

In late June, the Montgomery County Court denied Inovio's request for an injunction against VGXI.

"Inovio got greedy. It saw the opportunity to reap vast riches and keep its stock price soaring if it could win the race to a COVID-19 vaccine, but Inovio did not want to pay VGXI for the manufacturing," VGXI reportedly said in the lawsuit.

Inovio chose to unfairly take possession of VGXI's proprietary technology and manufacturing processes and pass on to as many as 10 other manufacturers around the world, including in China and India, the lawsuit alleges. 

What's Next For Inovio: The lawsuit from VGXI will not impact Inovio's coronavirus vaccine development, an Inovio spokesman told Benzinga in an email Friday. 

"If we have an effective vaccine, manufacturing will not be an issue," he said, adding that the Phase 2/3 trail for INO-4800 is on track to begin this summer.

Inovio reported June 30 with interim results from a Phase 1 study of INO-4800, which showed that 94% of Phase 1 trial participants demonstrated immune responses at week six after two doses of INO-4800.

The company also announced it has been selected to take part in a non-human primate challenge study under the federal government's Operation Warp Speed..

Inovio shares were down 0.67% at $23.12 at last check.

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