Nobel laureate Honjo, Ono Pharma settle royalty suit

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo arrives at the Osaka District Court in September.

OSAKA (Jiji Press) — Nobel Prize winner Tasuku Honjo and Ono Pharmaceutical Co. settled Friday their lawsuit over patent royalties for cancer immunotherapy drug Opdivo.

The Osaka-based drugmaker will pay Honjo, special professor at Kyoto University, ¥5 billion in settlement and donate ¥23 billion to a fund the university will set up to support young researchers.

In June last year, Honjo filed a damages lawsuit against Ono with the Osaka District Court, demanding that the company pay about ¥26.2 billion.

Honjo claimed that Ono paid him only 1% of the settlement money it received from a U.S. firm in an Opdivo patent infringement litigation although the drugmaker should have offered 40%.

Ono rebutted that it had proposed to pay 40% of the money but Honjo turned it down. As a result, the company paid him 1% under the 2006 licensing terms, it said.

Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with a U.S. scientist, for the basic research that led to the development of nivolumab, which Ono makes and sells as Opdivo.

The two sides entered into settlement talks in September, in the wake of the court’s advice to compromise.

“I want basic research supported for the long term by funds from companies capitalizing on scientific findings and achievements as well as goodwill donations,” Honjo said in a comment released after the settlement.