Quebec in negotiations to solve the Medicago tobacco problem

Quebec in negotiations to solve the Medicago tobacco problem

The Japanese giant Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma is asking the province of Quebec to invest in Medicago to replace the tobacco company Philip Morris, which is a shareholder and which prevents it from being in the good graces of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Discussions are ongoing, but we do not comment on the negotiations,” the official said Memories Romane St-Laurent, information officer in the office of the Minister of Economy, Lucie Lecours.

In late March, the World Health Organization (WHO) blocked Medicago’s Covifenz vaccine because tobacco company Philip Morris is a shareholder in the company, hurting the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday, the lobbyist registered “to accompany Medicago inc. instead of the shareholder Philip Morris, mainly through the participation of the government of Quebec”, one can read.

Yesterday, Medicago did not want to talk about the case and quickly transferred the money to Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, which did not respond to questions from Memories.

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma is owned by Tokyo-based global giant Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, which is worth $11 billion on the stock market.

It was in 2013 that Medicago was bought by foreign interests. At that time, the transaction was worth 357 million dollars. Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma became the owner of 60% and Philip Morris 40%.

Today, biopharmaceutical Medicago is owned 79% by Mitsubishi Tanabe and 21% by the tobacco giant Philip Morris.

The latter did not answer questions from Memoriesyesterday

240 million dollars

So far, Investissement Québec (IQ) has supported Medicago twice, with a $60 million loan in 2015 and a $7 million grant “for research and development against COVID-19” in 2020. .

For its part, Ottawa has invested more than 173 million dollars in the company with an agreement to buy up to 76 million doses of the vaccine.

In the office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, they say they have had several discussions with the company “to find a solution”.

“If this allows Medigo to finally get approval at the WHO level, why not? commented Frank Béraud, CEO of Montreal InVivo.

“It would be a shame to deny ourselves a vaccine that has been approved”, asked for his part Anie Perrault, general manager of BIOQuébec.

“The truth is that people in South America and Africa are under-vaccinated, and you should go vaccinate them,” he concluded.

– With Sylvain Larocque

In mid-February, Health Canada approved Medicago’s two-dose Covifenz vaccine, for people aged 18 to 64. Its effectiveness rate is 71% against symptomatic infections and 100% against severe forms of COVID-19.


  • Basic: 1999
  • Employees: 500
  • Equipment:Quebec and Durham (USA)
  • Creation of Mediago USA: 2011
  • Construction of a manufacturing unit in Quebec: 2018
  • Approval of the COVID-19 vaccine: 2022

Source: Mediago