On July 31, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a workshop on “Transforming Discoveries Into Products: Maximizing NIH’s Levers to Catalyze Technology Transfer.” The virtual workshop reviewed the NIH’s process for patenting and licensing technologies, primarily from the agency’s intramural research program. In keynote remarks, Maria Freire, PhD, an internationally recognized technology transfer specialist and former director for the Foundation of the NIH, urged focus on the “three As”: availability, accessibility, and affordability of medicines and other products developed through NIH research. Three sets of expert panels advised ways to accelerate such translation. Among their recommendations, the panels called for more transparency in licensing arrangements and better use of data from the federal invention reporting system, iEdison, and other sources to assess which arrangements are most successful.
In response to the NIH’s invitation for public comments to the workshop, the AAMC on July 27 submitted a letter noting that benefits from NIH research are far broader than the subset of inventions that are patented and licensed from research programs. The association also noted that the current innovation system has been highly successful and that any reforms taken should not undermine practices that already work well. The AAMC also cautioned against attempts to influence drug pricing through “march-in” provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act or other mechanisms, expressing concern that these measures would not be an effective or comprehensive solution to high drug prices, but would disincentivize firms from licensing NIH or university patents [refer to Washington Highlights, July 29, 2022].