NIH Response to the Conference Report Request for a Plan to Ensure Taxpayers' Interests are Protected
Revenues derived from licensing income and other equity are being used to defray the costs of patenting, licensing and related legal and infrastructure expenses associated with technology transfer.
If additional revenue is produced, it is used to fund new research programs, to support biomedical science training, and to cover research expenses not provided under overhead rates.
However, most university technology transfer programs have very few, if any, products in the market. Given the investment in patent prosecution costs, operating expenses, and revenue sharing with inventors as provided by law, many universities operate their technology transfer programs at a net loss.
These organizations stress the fact that most of the technologies are very early stage and, consequently, often have little licensing appeal. A relatively small number of technologies provide most of the licensing income they receive, because very few products are true "blockbusters".
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is composed of 27 Institutes and Centers whose collective mission is to sponsor and conduct medical research and research training that leads to better health for all Americans. In this manner, the NIH expands fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems; improves and develops new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease; reduces the burdens of disease and disability; and assures a continuing cadre of outstanding scientists for future advances. In FY 2001, the NIH received $20.3 billion in support of its mission. Of that amount, nearly 84 percent supports non-Federal researchers working in universities, medical centers, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad (collectively referred to as extramural research), and about 10 percent is allocated to in-house research laboratories located on the NIH campus and several off-campus sites (referred to as intramural research).
The Committee Report for the FY 2001 DHHS Appropriation contained the following instruction to the NIH:
"The conferees have been made aware of the public interest in securing an appropriate return on the NIH investment in basic research. The conferees are also aware of the mounting concern over the cost to patients of therapeutic drugs. By July, 2001, based on a list of such therapeutic drugs which are FDA approved, have reached $500 million per year in sales in the United States, and have received NIH funding, NIH will prepare a plan to ensure that taxpayers' interests are protected." (p. 142)
1. Commercialization of Government Owned and Government Funded Technologies
In 1980, in response to concerns about U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, Congress enacted two laws that encourage government owned and government funded research laboratories to pursue commercialization of the results of their research. These laws are known as the Stevenson-Wydler Act and the Bayh-Dole Act. Their goal is to promote economic development, enhance U.S. competitiveness, and benefit the public by encouraging the commercialization of technologies that would otherwise not be developed into products due to lack of incentives.
P.L. 96-480, the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 established the basic federal technology policies. This legislation enables NIH and other federal agencies to execute license agreements with commercial entities that promote the development of technologies discovered by government scientists. The Act also provides a financial return to the public in the form of royalty payments and related fees. In 1986, the directives of this Act were augmented by its amendment, the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 (FTTA), which authorizes federal agencies to enter into cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) with non-federal partners to conduct research.
The Patent and Trademark Amendments of 1980 (P.L. 96-517), known as the Bayh-Dole Act, was designed to address the barriers to development and promote the necessary synergy to advance federally funded inventions toward commercialization. The Bayh-Dole Act was enacted to allow federal agencies to secure patent rights and convey them to commercial entities through licensing, thereby promoting the transfer of federally funded technologies to the public and enhancing economic development. A key provision of the Act is that it provides grantees and contractors, both for-profit and not-for-profit, the authority to retain title to government-funded inventions, and charges them with the responsibility to use the patent system to promote utilization, commercialization, and public availability of inventions.
If the grantee or contractor institution declines title or elects not to pursue practical application of the technology, the federal agency can elect or decline title to the invention. By law, the funding agency retains residual interest in grant- and contract-supported inventions, such as a royalty-free, paid-up license to use the technology for government purposes. This right does not extend to a licensee's final commercial product, nor does it extend to proprietary information or trade secrets that belong to another party and may be incorporated in the final product.
2. The Process under Bayh-Dole
Recipients of NIH research funds, the NIH, and industry have now had twenty years' experience in technology transfer under Bayh-Dole. To accomplish the transfer of technology, NIH and NIH-funded recipients typically seek patent protection for inventions arising out of this basic research and license the rights to private entities to promote commercialization. Thus, private entities interested in practicing an invention in which they have no ownership may obtain rights to use and commercialize the invention by entering into a licensing agreement with the patent owner.
A license is a contract with binding commitments on each party, usually involving compensation (i.e. royalties, milestone payments, etc.). A license does not grant title, or ownership, to the invention. A license can be exclusive, when only one party is permitted to use or commercialize the technology; co-exclusive, when a limited number of parties have rights to use or commercialize the technology; or, non-exclusive, when more than one party is allowed to use or commercialize such rights.
a. Extramural Technology Transfer
Federally funded extramural laboratories establish their own licensing procedures and policies and obtain revenues from patent licensing agreements with industrial developers1. Universities also establish their own policies, in compliance with federal statute (Bayh-Dole and its regulations), for the distribution and use of proceeds from academic license agreements. Typically, revenues are allocated to inventors as a reward or incentive, and to laboratories, departments, and schools to support the research mission; however, the amounts provided to each are variable and subject to institutional policies.
Some measure of the financial returns associated with the Bayh-Dole Act may be gleaned from data that the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has collected from its constituency for the past nine years. The latest available survey (FY1999) elicited responses from 190 U.S. and Canadian universities, teaching hospitals, research institutes and patent commercialization companies. The AUTM institutions that responded to the survey received 71 percent of NIH extramural dollars in FY 1999 (Appendix 1).
The survey includes information on patents and licenses in the fields of healthcare products, software programs, physics, copyrights and agricultural products as well as research reagents and tools used by industry and academia for various research, development and commercial purposes. However, it does not separate biomedical technologies from the whole, nor does it separate income from federally funded projects from other sources of support; therefore, it is possible to draw only general conclusions from it. Further, this annual survey is designed to examine how basic academic discovery drives economic development, as intended by Bayh-Dole, but is not designed with the intent of exploring the issue of financial return on research investment.
As noted in the AUTM survey, in FY 1999 the gross income received from all active licenses and options held by U.S. universities, hospitals, research institutes and other entities amounted to $935 million. Of this income, 83 percent was earned on royalties from product sales, and the remainder consisted of cashed-in equity, milestone payments, and other fees. The survey also reports a total sponsored research activity of $25.7 billion in FY 1999, $16.3 billion of which was federal support2. If return on investment is presumed to be proportional, the AUTM data suggest a direct gross cash return on its federally funded research of approximately 5.5 percent annually. However, the AUTM survey collects very little data on the costs of the respondents' technology transfer programs. Therefore, it is not possible to determine from this information whether there is a "net profit" to the institution from technology transfer.
As a part of this report, NIH asked the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), the AUTM, the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to provide information from their members on their use of royalty income. University officials consistently reported that the revenues derived from licensing income and other equity are being used to defray the costs of patenting, licensing and related legal and infrastructure expenses associated with technology transfer. In addition, according to COGR, net revenue is shared between the inventor and the university, and the inventors' share is in the range, on average, of 30-35 percent of net income received.
If additional revenue is produced, it is used to fund new research programs, to support biomedical science training, and to cover research expenses not provided under capped overhead rates. However, most university technology transfer programs have very few, if any, products in the market. Given the investment in patent prosecution costs, operating expenses, and revenue sharing with inventors as provided by law, many universities operate their technology transfer programs at a net loss. These organizations stress the fact that very few products are true "blockbusters," and that a relatively small number of technologies provide most of the licensing income they receive, since most of the technologies are very early stage and, consequently, often have little licensing appeal (see Appendix 2).
NIH does not have jurisdiction over the extramural technology transfer programs of academic institutions that use federal funds for inventive research. Indeed, the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act do not give the funding agencies, including NIH, title to grants- and contracts-supported research discoveries, nor does it authorize the funding agency to dictate licensing and/or commercialization terms for these technologies.3. The Nature of Federally Funded Technology
b. Intramural Technology Transfer
As dictated by law, and under regulations from the Department of Commerce, NIH and other federal agencies carry out their technology transfer mandate by retaining title to the inventions developed internally by federal laboratories and licensing these inventions to ensure utilization, commercialization and public availability. As is the case with licensing programs in the extramural community, these technologies are negotiated on a case-by-case basis and in a manner consistent with rates and practices in private industry. For more details on NIH patenting and licensing policies and strategy, please see Appendix 3.
In FY2000, the NIH technology transfer program generated $52 million from its intramural licensing activity; in the past five years, license revenues have totaled approximately $200 million. In a 1999 study conducted by the General Accounting Office (GAO), NIH accounted for 95.1% of the royalty revenue received by the six agencies examined between 1996 and 1998, and was the most active program among the six.
NIH distributes the royalty income in accordance with federal law and NIH policy. By law, federal inventors must receive the first $2,000 of income received by the agency and at least 15 percent thereafter, up to a maximum of $150,000 per year in royalties from all licensed technologies in which they are inventors. The NIH formula modifies the amount of sharing to modestly increase the inventors' share, by providing them with 25% of the income after $50,000 in royalties is attained, up to the statutory maximum. In FY 2000 the inventors of NIH intramural technologies received, as a group, 13.5 percent of total NIH royalty revenue, and 28 NIH inventors currently receive the maximum $150,000 annual royalty.
The income remaining after the inventors' share goes to the Institute or Center within NIH in which the technology was developed. As provided by law, the funds are used for the following purposes:
- to reward scientific, engineering, and technical employees of the laboratory;
- to further scientific exchange among the laboratories of the agency;
- to educate and train employees consistent with the research and development missions and objectives of the agency or laboratory,
- to support other activities that increase the potential for transfer of the technology of the laboratories of the agency;
- to pay expenses incidental to the administration and licensing of intellectual property by the agency or laboratory with respect to inventions made at the laboratory, including the fees or other costs for the services of other agencies, persons, or organizations for intellectual property management and licensing services; or
- to support scientific research and development consistent with the research and development missions and objectives of the laboratory.
The role of federally funded basic discovery and a fair rate of return on this investment must also be considered in the context of what occurs following the initial invention. In their paper Proofs and Prototypes for Sale: The Tale of University Licensing, Jensen and Thursby analyzed 62 of the top 135 U.S. universities to determine the impact of Bayh-Dole on the commercial application and diffusion of inventions from federally funded research. They found that most inventions came from research in the schools of science, engineering, medicine and nursing. They reported that research leading to 63 percent of all inventions was federally funded, while 17 percent was sponsored by industry and 18 percent was not sponsored. Of all inventions disclosed within these universities, fewer than half of the inventions were licensed. In what the authors of the study consider their most remarkable finding, they determined that over 75 percent of licensed inventions were no more than a proof of concept3. Consequently, these inventions represented an extremely high-risk venture for those companies that did seek to develop the technologies.
Jensen and Thursby further describe the difficulty of finding willing developers of such early stage technology. During the reporting period of the survey, an average of 1178 licenses were executed annually. Only 22 percent of executed licenses had multiple bidders4. In addition, the top five inventions licensed in each university accounted for 78 percent of gross license revenue, demonstrating the high risk and variable commercial outcome of such early stage technologies.
4. The Road to Innovation
To determine the return on investment, it is critical to ascertain costs associated with the basic research and development that gave rise to a particular technology. However, the path that research takes is determined by the results of series of experiments, and the best science can veer dramatically from the plan. Therefore, the factors that make scientifically curious minds appropriately alter research plans also make determining a starting point for assigning costs to a particular technology difficult.
An inventive technology is most likely one piece of a very large research project; and, it may be tangential to the main focus as well. For example, technical obstacles are common impediments in biomedical research; they frustrate, but they also inspire. Overcoming the obstacle may lead an investigator to develop an alternative technology, which may or may not be a distinct piece of research. Rather, it may be a necessary sidestep within the larger project, and the costs of development are, for the most part, very difficult to isolate.
In addition, biomedical laboratories generally conduct their research with multiple complementary goals. Within an overarching research mission, a laboratory is typically divided into separate units, each of which is responsible for conducting research on a particular piece of a broad hypothesis, and each of which receives a variable piece of the laboratory budget as progress warrants. Some projects are designed to develop fundamental data or techniques that are necessary for a particular line of investigation; these techniques can be, and often are, useful for a number of unrelated studies.
Attempting to determine the costs of biomedical discovery is also complicated by the fact that new research almost always builds upon the work of predecessor scientists. Determining what part of a preceding budget or what part of a multi-purpose technique contributes to an inventive technology is, at best, extremely difficult, if not impossible.
5. Return on Investment
The question of the taxpayers' return on investment in biomedical research was debated in 1980 in consideration of the Bayh-Dole Act. At that time, concerns that the proposed legislation would permit private industry to profit from the taxpayers' investment in basic discovery led to proposals to recover the federal investment in basic research from any profits. Until shortly before its passage, the Bayh-Dole Act contained language to recoup the federal investment for federally funded technologies that reach commercialization. The proposed language included a formula for the repayment process. The Government would receive 15 percent of income over $70,000 gross income after a patent application was filed and up to an additional 5 percent if the gross income exceeded $1 million, up to the amount of government contributions under the funding agreement, pegged to the Consumer Price Index.
The Bayh-Dole Act was passed after Conferees made two changes in the language, in response to concerns that the process for determining repayment was threatening to cause an impasse in deliberations. First, several attempts to develop a mechanism for collecting repayment funds failed because there was no agreement on whether the funds would be returned to the agencies or to general revenue, or how the collection and auditing functions would be conducted. There were also fears that the costs of the infrastructure required to administer such a program would exceed the amounts collected.
To obtain passage of the legislation, members of Congress agreed that recoupment provisions would be dropped. However, due to concerns of some members of Congress that large companies would benefit from public dollars without a return to the taxpayer, large companies were removed from eligibility in the final bill. With these changes, the bill was passed and the Act today remains applicable to universities, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. In 1983, by Presidential Memorandum, President Ronald Reagan extended the implementation to large companies. And, in 1987, implementation of the Act was extended to these companies as part of an Executive Order issued by President Reagan.
6. The NIH "Reasonable Pricing" Clause Experience
In the years following passage of Bayh-Dole, members of Congress continued to express concerns about an appropriate monetary return for taxpayers' investment in biomedical research. In response to those concerns, in 1989 the NIH adopted a policy stating that there should be "a reasonable relationship between the pricing of a licensed product, the public investment in that product, and the health and safety needs of the public." It was applied in Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) negotiations between NIH intramural laboratories and potential private collaborative partners interested in engaging in collaborative research. The "reasonable pricing" clause was required in exclusive licenses to inventions made under NIH CRADAs. Shortly after the policy of "reasonable pricing" was introduced, industry objected to it, considering it a form of price control. Many companies withdrew from any further interaction with NIH because of this stipulation.
Both NIH and its industry counterparts came to the realization that this policy had the effect of posing a barrier to expanded research relationships and, therefore, was contrary to the Bayh-Dole Act. To study the impasse caused by "reasonable pricing," the NIH convened panels that included scientists and administrators in Government, industry, academia, and patient advocacy groups to review the policy. In exploring the matter, the panels considered two key questions:
- First, what kind of return on the public investment is appropriate?
The panels agreed on the following hierarchy, from most-to-least important: fostering scientific discoveries; rapid transfer of discoveries to the bedside; accessibility of resulting products to patients; and royalties.
- Second, how much return on investment is appropriate?
The panels acknowledged the importance of monetary return in the form of licensing and license execution fees, royalties, and recovery of patent prosecution expenses, but concluded that the question of royalties and monitoring returns is less important than the issue of expeditious new product development and accessibility of the products to those who need them.
The panels' evaluation of the issue supported the view that the intangible benefits of rapid development of technologies as effective therapeutics, and the assurance of access to those products for all who need them, are so significant that they override monetary return considerations5.
The panels concluded that the policy did not serve the best interests of technology development and recommended to the Director, NIH, that the language be rescinded. The Director, NIH, accepted the recommendation, and the policy was revoked in 1995.
The consequences of NIH's "reasonable pricing clause" policy can be seen in the relatively flat growth rate of CRADAs that occurred between 1990 and 1994, and the subsequent rebound in CRADAs following revocation of the policy (see Appendix 4).
7. Additional Studies Considering the Return on Investment
Several groups have recently revisited the issue of federally supported research and its value. For instance, the National Science Foundation estimates that the rate of return on the Government's investment for basic research can be as high as 40 percent when all the numbers are totaled, including taxes generated from product development6.
In May 2000, the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) issued The Benefits of Medical Research and the Role of NIH, which examined the role of federal funding for medical research and the benefits that derive from that research. The Committee report states that, although the rate of return on publicly funded research is difficult to quantify, the benefit of increased life expectancy in the U.S. as a result of advances in health care creates annual net gains of about $2.4 trillion (using 1992 dollars). The Committee concluded, "if only 10 percent of these increases in value ($240 billion) are the result of NIH-funded medical research, it indicates a payoff of about 15 times the taxpayers' annual NIH investment of $16 billion"7.
The JEC report also cites estimates that have been made in econometric studies that place the economy-wide rate of return on publicly funded research on the order of 25 to 40 percent a year. Development of biomedical discoveries also contributes to the national economy by providing therapeutics that reduce what the JEC termed "the economic costs of illness." This includes lost wages due to morbidity and mortality, expenditures associated with health care and treatment of disease, and the intangible costs of pain and suffering caused by disease. The JEC calculated that these costs amount to approximately $3 trillion annually, far exceeding the taxpayers' investment.
The Mary Woodward Lasker Charitable Trust's initiative called "Funding First," commissioned nine distinguished economists to conduct a comprehensive examination of the true economic value of our national investment in medical research. The report, Exceptional Returns: The Economic Value of America's Investment in Medical Research, published in May 2000, concluded that the likely returns from medical research are so extraordinarily high that the payoff from any plausible "portfolio" of investments in research would be enormous. For example, the reductions in mortality from cardiovascular disease alone averaged $1.5 trillion annually during the period 1970-1990. If just one-third of this gain is a result of medical research, the return on investment averaged $500 billion. As the report notes: "That's on the order of 20 times as large as average annual spending on medical research by any benchmark an astonishing return for the investment8."
The conclusions of these and other studies on the issue of return on investment are consistent and comparable in that they assert that there are both monetary and intangible benefits of remarkable value that are gained from federally funded biomedical research9.
D. Methodology, Findings and Discussion
As noted in the Introduction, in FY 2001 Congress asked the NIH to assess appropriate return to the taxpayers when a therapeutic drug, developed from technology funded by NIH, reached annual product sales of $500 million per year, making it a "blockbuster" drug.
To address Congress' request, the NIH analysis focused on patent rights, since it is only through such rights that a financial interest can be established for a product. NIH determined which therapeutic drugs currently on the market met the Congressionally established criteria. NIH also studied the process by which technologies reach the market. To augment its analysis, NIH reviewed other studies that have examined one or more aspects of the impact of federally supported biomedical research and the return on investment that such research generates.
NIH also held discussions with a number of leaders in the academic, not-for-profit and government sectors, as well as representatives of for-profit entities to explore all of the issues relevant to developing a plan to ensure that taxpayers' interests are protected (see Appendix 5).
There is no existing database that captures all the elements required for this analysis; therefore, NIH undertook an exhaustive compilation of data from a number of individual sources of information, and then conducted a cross-analysis to obtain a list that meets the specifications in the Congressional instruction. NIH reviewed information in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations List (known as the Orange Book). This list identifies drug products approved on the basis of safety and effectiveness by FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and provides a list of patents that cover the approved product. The patent history of each drug was examined using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) computerized data bank. This search was used to determine if NIH, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or the Public Health Service (PHS) held rights in or was designated as having an interest on the patents. Finally, the NIH queried the Edison database. Edison is a NIH-developed interactive system, through which grantee and contractor organizations report information on inventions developed with NIH funding, as required by the Bayh-Dole Act (see Appendix 6).
Analysis of the pharmaceutical company sales data for 1999 (the latest date for which data are available) yielded a total of 47 FDA- approved drugs that met the $500 million/year threshold (see Appendix 7). For each drug listed, NIH sought to determine whether the agency, directly, or through a grantee or contractor, held any patent rights to the drugs.
From the comprehensive cross-analysis of all 47 drugs, it was determined that NIH has Government use or ownership rights to patented technologies used in the development of four of those drugs. Those four are Taxol®, Epogen®, Procrit®, and Neupogen®.
Epogen® and Procrit® are based on different uses of a patented process technology developed at Columbia University with support from NIH grants. Columbia licensed their technology to Amgen for Epogen® and to Johnson & Johnson for Procrit® .
Neupogen® is manufactured by Amgen using patented technologies for a process and a composition licensed from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). These technologies were developed with NIH grant support.
Taxol® is manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) using a patented process technology developed by Florida State University (FSU) with NIH grant funds. In addition, the NIH has rights to an underlying technology arising from a NIH CRADA collaboration with BMS. The NIH has received from BMS tens of millions of dollars in royalties from FY1997 to FY2000 under the license to the NIH technology.
As mentioned in the Background section, discussions on the appropriate return on the taxpayers' investment have been part of public policy deliberations for many years. Macroeconomics studies addressing this issue have been conducted repeatedly over the past thirty years and clearly show the direct and positive impact of public funding for health-related basic research and the wisdom of such investment of taxpayers' funds for public benefit. These studies, however, have generally focused on the broader impact of such research on quality of life, improvement of health and economic competitiveness.
It is important to note that while NIH's federally funded research has contributed in a substantial, dramatic, yet general, way to advances in medicine and biology, the direct contributions to a final therapeutic product as a consequence of the Bayh-Dole process is limited and difficult to determine. This is due to many factors.
First, the technologies developed in basic research laboratories are nascent, requiring extensive further development.
Second, not all technologies arising from NIH funded research lead to therapeutic drugs; indeed, new chemical entities that could lead to therapeutic products are hard to discover, as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies can attest.
Third, the likelihood that a compound will reach the market is very low. Consider the following statistics: for one drug to be approved by the FDA, a company typically needs to screen between 5,000 and 10,000 compounds. Of these, an average of 250 compounds survive pre-clinical testing, only five compounds are approved for clinical testing, and only one succeeds in obtaining FDA approval10.
Fourth, development and production of a FDA-approved therapeutic drug occurs, on average, eight to twelve years after a license is signed, and a license offers no guarantee that a product will ever reach the market. Given this lag time, most investigators and universities are unaware when licensing milestones are reached unless they have a very active license-monitoring program or until they receive royalty payments pursuant to the license agreements.
NIH also found that the actual financial return to grantees and contractors was relatively low. Indeed, while universities and industry stressed that the current system under Bayh-Dole has been highly successful and a model now emulated by the world, they cautioned that the great majority of these patents do not generate significant revenues or even sufficient revenues to compensate the patenting expenses (see Appendices 2, 8, 9, and 10). The university and industrial communities clearly noted that the current system of innovation under Bayh-Dole has achieved its goal and promoted utilization of technologies for public benefit that otherwise would lie fallow. It was further noted that recoupment strategies, while well intentioned, would have a chilling effect on the technology transfer process and fail to address the key concern of access to therapeutic drugs. These constituencies expressed deep concern that changes in the system would be counter to the Bayh-Dole Act and would destabilize a successful balance between public and private needs for innovation and development.
NIH explored the notion of possible royalty redirection for "blockbuster" drugs under licenses arising from the Bayh-Dole Act. This suggestion was met with strong resistance from the academic community because it was perceived as a tax that would, at best, have no net effect on the price of a therapeutic drug and, at worst, increase its cost. Further, it was argued that such redirection of royalties would undermine the research enterprise, drain funds for academic development, and discourage faculty members from embarking in the technology transfer process. Moreover, there is concern that any movement to extract a direct financial return for the investment would dampen, if not destroy, industry's willingness to establish agreements with academic institutions, as was the case when NIH imposed the reasonable pricing clause in its CRADAs.
The university community gives strong support for broad access to prescription drugs and health care services at reasonable rates. However, the universities noted that neither NIH nor universities have a role in drug pricing.
NIH is aware that in the future other potential "blockbuster" drugs may result from Bayh-Dole related activities and, therefore, keenly appreciates the importance of thoughtful analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of potential models of return on investment, and the importance of a continued dialogue on this matter. However, it should be noted that even if these strategies were to be considered appropriate, NIH has no authority to impose such measures.
It has taken two decades since the enactment of Bayh-Dole for federally funded institutions to develop a royalty stream, and NIH realizes that future events may change the situation that exists today. This dynamic environment makes it even more important to be able to track how the link from invention to patent to license to royalty develops, and to be able to examine these links at a later date. It is also clear from our current efforts that such information is not readily accessible at the present time.
For example, analysis of the 47 therapeutic drugs that have reached annual sales in the U.S. of $500 million, and determination of which of these had intellectual property that ties back to federal funding, was particularly difficult. This is due to the fact that implementing regulations of the Bayh-Dole Act do not require that investigators provide such information to the funding agency, and it is generally not provided. As a result, tracking down the "pedigree" of these drugs had to be done manually and on a case-by-case basis.
From a more practical and direct perspective, NIH found that a key obstacle to systematic analysis on this matter is the lack of solid and consistent data on which to base the discussion. This lack of information has also been identified by members of the public, and specifically addressed in the letter from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (see Appendix 10).
E. The Plan
It is clear that information relating to inventive discoveries and their commercial development is reported neither systematically nor consistently. Currently, significant information is not required by the implementing regulations under Bayh-Dole. As a result, it is not possible to cross-reference NIH grants and contracts that funded inventions with any patents or licenses embodied in the final product. Nor is it possible to identify other federal and/or non-federal sources of funds that contribute to an inventive technology. To address this deficiency, NIH will:
First, modify its existing extramural policy manuals to ensure that grantees and contractors report to the agency the name, trademark or other appropriate identifiers of a therapeutic drug that embodies technology funded by the NIH once it is FDA-approved and reaches the market;
Second, make this information available to the public in a web-based database. The database will identify the NIH grants or contracts that funded, in whole or in part, the inventive research, the date of the first disclosure to the government, the licensee and the product's commercial name;
Third, develop standardized language to simplify the reporting requirements. This language will include an appropriate format for providing the information to NIH; and,
Fourth, comply with these same requirements so that all FDA-approved therapeutic drugs developed in the NIH intramural program will also be listed in the publicly accessible database.
The availability of these data will make the research discovery and development process transparent; as a result, it will permit the tracking of a drug's technological pedigree and serve as a resource for the public.
Additionally, the NIH recognizes the need for continued dialogue on this important matter. To do so, it is necessary to identify a group of stakeholders, with representation from Government, academic and research entities, private industry, and other appropriate interested parties, which would participate in a thoughtful and constructive discussion on the appropriate returns to the public. It is envisioned that the data collected under this Plan, and the information gathered from the broader stakeholder discussion, will aid in the evaluation of the costs and benefits of technology transfer to the taxpayers and inform future decisions by NIH on policies and practice.
On the basis the information gathered for this report, NIH believes that its stewardship of the federal resources that support biomedical research has protected the taxpayers' interests. NIH and its recipient institutions apply the provisions of Bayh-Dole to best advantage in seeking the optimal return on investment in terms of public health benefit.
NIH also concludes that contravening the provisions of Bayh-Dole may have a deleterious effect on biotechnology development. Current practices in technology transfer have yielded a dramatic return to the taxpayer through the discovery of new technologies that extend life and improve the quality of life and through the development of products that, without the successful public-private relationship, might not be available. The transfer of federally funded technology has also resulted in financial returns from licensing activity, and such funds are used to buttress the biomedical research enterprise that has made the U.S. the world leader in this field.
Requiring direct financial recoupment of the federal investment in biomedical research can potentially impede the development of promising technologies by causing industry to be unwilling to license federally funded technologies. The "reasonable pricing" provisions that NIH once required in all CRADA and exclusive license negotiations did just that. Of even greater concern should be the potential that the economic disincentives of recoupment will make it expedient for industry to move research outside the federal milieu. Such action would diminish the strides made under the Bayh-Dole Act and have the unintended consequence of removing the research from federal oversight, a particular concern when the research involves lines of investigation that are especially critical or sensitive.
It is impossible to overstate the achievements or the global macroeconomic impact of U.S. taxpayer-supported biomedical research. Federally funded biomedical research, aided by the economic incentives of Bayh-Dole, has created the scientific capital of knowledge that fuels medical and biotechnology development. American taxpayers, whose lives have been improved and extended, have been the beneficiaries of the remarkable medical advances that have come from this enterprise.
P.L. 96-480 Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, and P.L. 96-517 The Patent and Trademark Amendments of 1980 (Bayh-Dole) may be accessed through http://thomas.loc.gov.
June, 1999 GAO Report #RCED-99-173 "Technology Transfer Number and Characteristics of Inventions Licensed by Six Federal Agencies".
Backgrounders and Facts, December 1999. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association website http://www.phrma.org.
Convergence: Ernst & Young's Biotechnology Industry Report, Millennium Edition.
Exceptional Returns: The Economic Value of America's Investment in Medical Research. Report of the Mary Woodward Lasker Charitable Trust's initiative Funding First, May 2000.
Jensen, Richard and Marie Thursby. Proofs and Prototypes for Sale: The Tale of University Licensing. National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, ©August 1998, available at website http://www.nber.org/papers/w6998.
Molecular Politics. Wright, Susan. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1994.
NIH Contributions to Pharmaceutical Development. Administrative Document prepared by NIH staff, February 2000.
Prescription for Profits. Marsa, Linda. Scribner, New York, 1997.
Reports of the NIH Panels of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements: Perspectives, Outlook, and Policy Development. December 1994.
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