Government patent seizures could curb costs but could have unintended consequences

[Olivier Le Moal/Adobe Stock]

The Biden administration has announced a new framework to enforce the government’s “march-in” rights to seize patents on drugs developed with taxpayer funding if it deems that their prices are unreasonably high.

While the government has had these rights for decades thanks to the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, it has not used them previously. Before the Bayh-Dole Act, the federal government owned inventions resulting from federally funded research.

In making the decision to potentially seize patents for federally-funded therapies, officials argued that Americans often pay two to three times more than other countries for the same drugs, despite taxpayers investing billions in relevant research through agencies such as the NIH. Federal officials highlighted COVID-19 vaccines as a prominent example, balking at recent price hikes by Moderna and Pfizer despite public funds t…

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