NIH Partnership Is Not Enough, Lacks Affordability Standards

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins announced today a “public-private partnership” to guide the development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. In a letter Thursday, Public Citizen urged Collins to make accessibility, affordability and open science key elements of the plan. These are not guaranteed in the partnership announced today

NIH and the federal government must do much more to overcome the barriers of corporate secrecy and monopoly. This partnership is somewhat encouraging as it will allow information and research methods to be shared more easily, but NIH is being far too shy about using its federal power during a pandemic.

The federal government is pouring billions into medical research and manufacturing. NIH should announce clear standards for pricing and insist on the open licensing of patents and other exclusivities in exchange for royalties to patent holders, so that researchers can quickly draw on the most recent science and technology and ensure a robust supply of affordable treatments and vaccines.