Den of Iniquity

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NIH: For Profit

Posted on November 5, 2017 at 9:50 AM

As the world's largest single sponsor of biological research, NIH frequently funds research with commercially valuable outcomes. When that R&D generates potentially valuable inventions, NIH submits patent applications to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and actively pursues the approval of those patents, which when granted become valuable commercial property for HHS, the patents' owner. Since NIH has neither the authority nor the capability to pursue product commercialization efforts, in order to encourage private companies to invest in conducting the necessary clinical trials, NIH's Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) was created to grant commercial licenses for such HHS patents to commercial partners, including vaccine manufacturers. When new products invented at NIH clear the requisite regulatory hurdles at the FDA and reach the market, OTT then shares in the profits. It also distributes the rewards back to the scientific teams whose products have succeeded in reaching the commercial state. When license fees flow into OTT's coffers, the federal employees who invented the technology are entitled by NIH policy to a share of the royalties.

When technology licensing takes place within federal agencies, . . . [there is] an unprecedented web of conflict, one in which the same departments that are tasked with regulating the health and safety of medical products are also profiting from them.

This is the HHS vision of public-private partnerships at work. Contrary to the rhetoric, these partnerships aren't simply a high-minded collaboration of scientific visionaries, but rather a large commercial enterprise with extraordinary profits at stake: an enterprise from which NIH receives credit and money and upon which its corporate partners build multibillion dollar businesses.


Mark Blaxill, MBA and Dan Olmsted

Categories: Vax Facts