[Ip-health] Bob Dole on Bayh-Dole Act, Innovation is key to defeating COVID-19 - Roll Call
james.love at keionline.org
Fri Jul 24 20:19:57 PDT 2020
Not sure who wrote this for Bob Dole, who is 97 years old now. But I will
offer a few points.
Since leaving the Senate, Bob Dole has represented several drug companies,
and been a pitchman for Pfizer and Viagra.
The law that was passed in 1980 was different than the law and practice
today. For example, while non-profit and small contractors could take
title to inventions funded by federal grants and contracts, they were only
given 5 years of exclusivity, unless the funding agency agreed to an
extension. Public notice was 60 days instead of 15, and agencies could
disclose R&D costs, royalties and other elements, and agencies made fully
unredacted copies of licenses public.
The statute has all sorts of public interest protections, so if you like
the law, that includes the exceptions. What Dole has done from time to
time, urged by drug companies and other rights holders, is to claim the
Bayh-Dole is great when you don't use the public interest protections.
Below is the op-ed with Dole's name on it, in the Hill.
In just a few short months, the world as we know it has been threatened and
transformed by a global pandemic — a pandemic that has already claimed
hundreds of thousands of lives and devastated the economies of countries
across the globe.
Our nation has faced significant challenges before, and we have always
risen to the occasion and prevailed. It’s the American way. I remain
confident about our resilience in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and much
of this confidence arises from legislation that I co-authored in 1980 with
my former colleague — the late, great senator from Indiana, Birch Bayh.
The Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act — commonly known as the
Bayh-Dole Act — helped set the stage for the public-private partnerships
that are essential to developing a vaccine and effective treatments against
the novel coronavirus. Several of the vaccines and therapeutics currently
in development likely wouldn’t exist without this legislation. According to
Bloomberg Law, “The most promising COVID-19 treatments and vaccines being
explored right now were made possible” because of Bayh-Dole.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act. We introduced
the legislation because we knew neither government nor industry alone had
the intellectual capacity or the resources to develop and produce the kind
of innovations that lead to life-saving cures and transformative
technologies. As Sen. Bayh and I wrote years ago in a joint op-ed, “The
purpose of our Act was to spur the interaction between public and private
research so that patients would receive the benefits of innovative science
Many research institutions and universities are responsible for the kind of
foundational discoveries and inventions that ultimately lead to innovative
new cures and products. But it takes a massive investment and additional
research and development by the private sector to bring these innovations
to market. For every dollar the government spends, industry spends 10 to
100 times that amount.
Before Bayh-Dole, the government retained ownership of patents resulting
from federally funded research. That meant private firms had no incentive
to partner with research institutions or commercialize their inventions. As
a result, very few discoveries made it from the lab to market.
Prior to the law, the government licensed just 5 percent of the 28,000
patents it retained, and few were developed into commercial products. By
allowing universities to manage inventions made with government funding,
Bayh-Dole paved the way for academic institutions to take the lead in
turning their research into real, usable products — and did so without
creating any new bureaucracy or spending taxpayer dollars.
In 1980, few could foresee that our legislation would help spur the
development of a children's vaccine for rotavirus, quantum computing, the
nicotine patch, FluMis, and transformative companies such as Google. Thanks
in part to Bayh-Dole, three new companies are launched and two new products
are brought to market every day, on average. The law has also jump-started
many small businesses — 70 percent of university licenses are issued to
startups and small companies. To date, the Bayh-Dole Act has bolstered U.S.
economic output by $1.7 trillion, supported 5.9 million jobs, and led to
more than 13,000 startup companies.
Today, Bayh-Dole is helping facilitate the development of COVID-19
For instance, Moderna — the small company in Massachusetts that is about to
begin phase 3 clinical trials with its vaccine candidate — counts patent
licenses from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania in its
intellectual property portfolio.
I was humbled when The Economist called Bayh-Dole “possibly the most
inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past
half-century. More than anything, this single policy measure helped to
reverse America's precipitous slide into industrial irrelevance.”
Sen. Bayh and I partnered in a bipartisan manner to enact this important
legislation, and I give him the majority of the credit for his vision and
leadership. I am confident that he would join me in urging our present-day
leaders to rise above partisan political bickering and work together to
defeat this virus. Innovation will be the key, and I remain optimistic and
proud that our legacy legislation may play a small role in a victory for
millions and millions around the world.
Bob Dole is a former Republican presidential nominee and Senate majority
leader who served in Congress for 35 years.
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