Nobel winner Honjo, pharmaceutical company in dispute over license fee

Japanese Nobel laureate in medicine Tasuku Honjo is in a dispute over a license fee under a patent agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical Co which sells a cancer treatment drug developed based on his research.
Honjo and his lawyer told reporters that he refused to accept the company's offer of about 2.6 billion yen ($23 million) because he believes the company had shortchanged him by giving an inadequate explanation about his compensation when they signed the patent agreement in 2006.
"I would like to discuss with the company about increasing my remuneration in line with (the drug's) sales," he said Wednesday.
He has deposited the money with the legal affairs bureau.
"We treat him with respect but (what he says) greatly deviates from the current agreement," a spokesman at Ono Pharmaceuticals said, though he declined to give details.
The discovery of the protein PD-1 by Honjo and his team in 1992 later led to the development of the drug Opdivo that triggers the immune system to attack cancer cells. Ono Pharmaceutical started selling it in 2014 and it is usually used to treat skin and lung cancer.
Honjo said he wished to donate his patent sales to a foundation supporting young researchers set up by Kyoto University where he is a distinguished professor. He has already done so with his Nobel Prize money.
This is not the first time that a Japanese scientist has sparred with a company selling products based on the scientist's discoveries.
Shuji Nakamura, a 2014 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, settled a suit with chemical maker Nichia Corp in 2005 over patent rights compensation related to his blue light-emitting diode technology.

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