COVID-IP: Staring down the Bayh-Dole Act with 2020 Vision
Posted: 13 May 2020 Last revised: 14 May 2020
Date Written: May 12, 2020
As the human and economic toll of the COVID-19 coronavirus steadily escalates, there is extreme uncertainty about the timeframe for preventing, detecting, and treating it. There is also concern about the eventual costs associated with approved products and the barriers to access created by the patent system. Industry, government, and academic collaborations are leading the charge in the discovery race, partnerships which have triggered calls for the activation of the federal governments so-called “march-in rights” established in the Bayh-Dole Act. The Bayh-Dole Act dramatically altered the patent protections available to federally funded academic institutions and scientists and initiated a 40-year debate over appropriate incentives for innovation and the scope of the government’s authority.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic provides an opportunity to reflect on the purpose and impact of the historic legislation as well as contemplate the implications for our public health future. Existing and future patent rights for therapeutic compounds, methods of delivery, and medical diagnostics will significantly impact access to and cost of life-saving innovations. In the midst of rapid and wide-ranging research investigations, this article examines advocacy efforts urging the government to utilize governmental march-in rights to quell concerns about patent monopolization and product pricing. It also analyzes the Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act as it relates to impending COVID-19 coronavirus products.
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