High Value Health Care

NIH should consider future drug prices when deciding how to patent its inventions

Health care

How should publicly-funded science be licensed and patented for the public good? That was the topic at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) workshop, Transforming Discoveries into Products: Maximizing NIH’s Levers to Catalyze Technology Transfer, on July 31, 2023. PIRG submitted comments, urging NIH “to use its existing powers to ensure that prescription drugs and other medical products developed with public funds are not kept from the public because of price and anti-competitive practices.” PIRG recommended several actions, including:

  1. NIH should include terms in its licensing agreements that better protect patients from price-gouging and unsupportable prices for prescription drugs. 
  2. NIH should improve transparency of public funding related to NIH inventions, including the royalties paid by drug companies to use NIH discoveries and the cost of NIH-funded clinical trials. Transparency is needed to ensure accountability and full assessment of the use of public funds.

PIRG urged the NIH to stand by a patient-centric approach. The NIH “should do its utmost to not simply help launch the discoveries that make new prescription drugs possible, but the agency should consider how to use its power to ensure the market prices allow the patients to access them.”

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