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Moderna Boosts Legal, Policy Ranks Amid Covid Vaccine Work (1)

Aug. 12, 2020, 3:42 PM; Updated: Aug. 12, 2020, 4:54 PM

Moderna Inc. has recruited John Lepore, a former top public policy lawyer at Mastercard Inc., and two other in-house attorneys as the biotechnology company pushes forward on a potential vaccine for the coronavirus.

Lepore joined Moderna this week as senior vice president of government engagement, a newly created role outside of the legal group.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said Aug. 10 that Lepore, who previously spent nearly 15 years in-house at global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC and more than four years at publisher RELX Group PLC, will report directly to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.

In a statement, Bancel said Lepore is joining the company “at a pivotal time as we enroll the Phase 3 study of our Covid-19 vaccine.”

Moderna reached a deal Tuesday with the Trump administration to supply 100 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine. The company also disclosed this month it has received $400 million in deposits for a supply of that potential vaccine.

“John’s experience in developing corporate strategy for vaccines at GSK along with his unique blend of government affairs, public policy, commercial, and legal experience at the national, regional, and global level will be an important asset as we transition Moderna into a global commercial stage enterprise,” Bancel said.

Lepore spent the past three years as general counsel for public policy and advocacy at Mastercard, which he joined in 2017 after four years as head of global government affairs at RELX, once known as Reed Elsevier. Prior to that Lepore held a variety of in-house roles at GSK, including general counsel for China and vice president of government affairs for emerging markets and the Asia-Pacific region.

Lepore confirmed in an email that he will head government relations and public policy at Moderna. He declined further comment.

Moderna spokeswoman Colleen Hussey said that Lepore’s position is new, while also confirming the company’s hire of two new in-house lawyers in Brian Sandstrom and Kristin Rand.

Sandstrom, a former associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, joined Moderna this month as an associate general counsel for securities after spending five years as an executive counsel for corporate, finance, and securities at General Electric Co. Rand, a former compliance officer at Seattle Genetics Inc., was hired by Moderna in May as global risk officer and head of corporate compliance.

Moderna secured a $483 million agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and test a Covid-19 vaccine in human trials. In July, Moderna began a clinical trial for that vaccine with the first of 30,000 human volunteers.

Moderna, which raised $1.3 billion in a share sale earlier this year, was founded in 2010 and went public in December 2018. Securities filings show that Moderna’s IPO generated $5 million in legal fees and expenses for its lawyers from Goodwin Procter, which has continued to advise the company on its stock offerings this year.

Bloomberg data shows that Irell & Manella has represented Moderna in patent litigation. The company has also turned to Fish & Richardson for trademark work on names like “CovidVax” and “Wuhan Vax,” according to public filings.

Lori Henderson, a former Goodwin associate, joined Moderna as its general counsel and corporate secretary in April 2018.

(Adds information on Goodwin's work for Moderna in 12th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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