By YUTO YONEDA/ Staff Writer
November 13, 2021 at 13:45 JST
OSAKA--Nobel laureate Tasuku Honjo’s long-running dispute with Osaka-based Ono Pharmaceutical Co. for royalties following his discovery of the anti-cancer drug Opdivo has finally led to a settlement in which the pharmaceutical giant will pay him 5 billion yen ($44 million) in compensation.
Tasuku Honjo, a distinguished professor of molecular immunology at Kyoto University, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with U.S. immunologist James Patrick Allison in 2018 for their discovery of a protein that proved effective in the fight against cancer. Their research was the basis for developing Opdivo, which was manufactured and sold by Ono Pharmaceutical.
On Nov. 12, the two sides reached a settlement in which Ono Pharmaceutical will pay Honjo a lump sum of 5 billion yen and donate 23 billion yen to a research foundation established at Kyoto University to support young researchers.
Honjo, 79, will retract the lawsuit before the Osaka District Court and has also agreed to work with Ono Pharmaceutical to pursue pharmaceutical research and increase awareness of Opdivo.
Kyoto University will manage the research foundation. Neither Honjo nor Ono Pharmaceutical will have a say in who is selected to receive funds.
Honjo cooperated with Ono Pharmaceutical in a patent lawsuit over Opdivo against a U.S. pharmaceutical firm. That lawsuit was settled in 2017. Honjo said he was told by Ono Pharmaceutical that the company would pay him 40 percent of the settlement money it received, but in the end it was only willing to shell out about 1 percent of the promised windfall.
Honjo filed the lawsuit in June 2020 seeking the remainder of what he felt was owed him.
In a statement he issued Nov. 12, Honjo said: “We have been able to reach a satisfactory settlement. My aim is to support from a long-term perspective basic research through the funds that will be turned over by the company as well as through other donations.”
Gyo Sagara, Ono Pharmaceutical’s president, held a news conference the same day and expressed satisfaction at the terms of the settlement. He said the donation to the research foundation constituted a long cherished dream of the company.
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