National / Crime & Legal

Nobel laureate Honjo sues Ono Pharmaceutical over royalties from Opdivo

Jiji

Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo filed a damages lawsuit against Ono Pharmaceutical Co. with Osaka District Court on Friday over royalties for the immunotherapy drug Opdivo.

Honjo, special professor at Kyoto University, is demanding about ¥22.6 billion in damages, claiming the drugmaker neglected its obligations to him by slashing his share of royalty income from the cancer-fighting drug.

Honjo chose to take the matter to court after rejecting the drugmaker's offer in 2018 to donate up to ¥30 billion to Kyoto University.

Ono Pharmaceutical obtained a patent based on Honjo's research for Opdivo.

In January 2017, Ono Pharmaceutical settled a similar lawsuit against a U.S. company that resulted in a deal that calls on the U.S. firm to pay Ono Pharmaceutical about ¥70 billion plus future royalties until 2026.

In August that year, Ono Pharmaceutical notified Honjo it planned to pay him 1 percent of the money won in the lawsuit, versus its earlier offer to pay 40 percent for his cooperation with the lawsuit.

Honjo has urged the company to pay him the remaining 39 percent, claiming that a share of only 1 percent is irrational, considering Opdivo's contribution to the company's earnings.

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