UAE-based vaccine producer to 'trenchantly oppose' Galway firm's court action

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Uae-Based Vaccine Producer To 'Trenchantly Oppose' Galway Firm's Court Action Uae-Based Vaccine Producer To 'Trenchantly Oppose' Galway Firm's Court Action
The unique vaccine is being developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), part of the US Army. Photo: Getty Images
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High Court reporters

A Covid-19 vaccine producer from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will “trenchantly oppose” a Galway firm’s application for an injunction to prevent it from pursuing a distribution contract with the Nigerian government, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for Via Medica International Healthcare LLC, which is registered in the UAE, said on Thursday that there had been “palpable levels of dishonesty”, as well as “material non-disclosures” on the part of the co-directors of Upper Newcastle-based 1492 Pharma.

Rossa Fanning SC told the court the plaintiff company had purported to offer an undertaking as to damages in support of its application for a temporary injunction against his client, Via Medica. It transpires, he said, that the Galway firm is a “hollow shell devoid of any assets”.

Lawyers representing 1492 Pharma were granted an order on Thursday permitting them to come off record after the court heard the relationship with their client had broken down.

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One of 1492 Pharma’s directors, Seamus McCauley, told the court that allegations he believed related to this case had been made to Credit Suisse Bank which led to a freeze on a dozen bank accounts. He said he has been informed this action is part of a “logistical process”.

The company has given commitments about payments and is simply faced with a “timing issue” in relation to its access to funds. He asked for a two-week grace period to instruct a new legal team and deliver further replies.

Talks with the Nigerian government

Last month Via Medica, without prejudice, gave an undertaking to the court that it would not solicit business from the Nigerian government for the provision or manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines, a rollout programme or the sale or supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) pending the determination of 1492 Pharma’s injunction application.

The Galway company said it began trading in 2020 with a special focus on the supply of PPE and Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries.

In its action, 1492 Pharma claims it made a proposal to the Nigerian government in August 2021 for the delivery of a 160-million-dose vaccination programme.

It says it approached the UAE vaccine producer and supplier and, during negotiations about potentially working together to deliver a programme, made various confidential disclosures about operational matters and proposals with the Nigerian government.

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It alleges Via Medica subsequently breached a non-disclosure (NDA) agreement entered into during discussions and approached the Nigerian ministry for health with “remarkably similar” proposals to what 1492 Pharma had suggested, the court previously heard.

The engagement between the two firms had also raised a potential sale of Via Medica shares to 1492 Pharma for $62 million (€57 million). Although a share purchase agreement was entered into in January of this year, the share sale did not proceed, the court heard.

The claims are denied, and Mr Fanning said his client will “trenchantly oppose” the application.

Mr Justice Brian O’Moore set a hearing date in July.

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