Marshall Expresses Opposition Biden Proposal to Illegally Seize Drug Patents

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D., Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and 15 other Republican members sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) expressing concern with President Biden’s proposal that would allow agencies to seize drug patents under the Bayh-Dole Act if they assess the price set by the company to be too high.

The Senators worry that if the agency is allowed to illegally use march-in rights, it will severely hamper health care innovation and deny millions of Americans future life-saving cures and treatments. Authors of the Bayh-Dole Act, former U.S. Senators Birch Bayh (D-IN) and Bob Dole (R-KS) made clear that their legislation did not give the federal government the price-setting power. Past Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have also repeatedly affirmed that agencies lack the authority to weaponize Bayh-Dole to seize patents in response to commercial drug costs.

Senator Marshall has defended Senator Dole’s historic and successful bipartisan law and questioned the then-NIH nominee in a HELP Committee hearing last fall, where he received a commitment from the Director that she would uphold the intent of the Bayh-Dole Act. 

“A short-sighted decision to exercise march-in rights would work against your stated goal and jeopardize patient access by discouraging individuals from partnering with NIH to develop new cures and treatments,” wrote the senators. “Not only will this hurt patients, but it will also diminish the return the public gets on the investments Congress makes in NIH each year – something we should all seek to optimize.”

“We share the bipartisan goal of wanting to lower drug prices for American patients and families. But using march-in rights to address drug prices would do more harm than good,” continued the Senators. “Agencies, including NIH, should not abuse their authorities to illegally seize intellectual property, and in the process jeopardize the valuable public-private partnerships that make our biomedical research enterprise the best in the world.”

Additional signers include U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Lankford (R-OK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Tom Cotton (R-AR).

Read the full letter to NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli here.