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Coalition opposes proposed changes to government-funded research rules

A coalition leader says Washington’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices might endanger agricultural and other research and new product development.

Joe Allen with the Bayh Dole Coalition tells Brownfield the 42-year-old law championed by former Senators Birch Bayh of Indiana and Bob Dole of Kansas allows universities to license their discoveries to the private sector for product development, and get new products on the market, but he says the Biden administration is under pressure to change that. “We have people like Senator Elizabeth Warren and other people, progressives, who actually want to go back to those days where again, the government is kind of determining who owns things, what the price of things should be, and again, we’ve been through that before and it just doesn’t work.”

Allen says because of the Bayh-Dole Act, the U.S. again became the leader in research and product development. “Swine vaccines have come out of it. Strawberries have come out of it. It’s one of the things now where every day of the year, we have three new products and three new companies formed off of government-funded inventions, which didn’t happen before Bayh-Dole. It’s actually one of the reasons we’re running rings around China as far as inventiveness goes.”

Allen says one success story of the Bayh-Dole Act is the Honeycrisp apple, created by University of Minnesota researchers but made available to the market after ten years of private sector development.

Allen says in the 40 years before Bayh-Dole passed, 28 thousand inventions were sitting on the shelf, and not a single new drug was developed.  Now, he says the U.S. leads every field of technology and it sees three new companies and commercializes three new products every day.

Allen worked for former Senator Bayh in 1980, when they discovered inventions from government-funded university research were taken by the government for free distribution, but because someone had to invest in making a consumer product, many new discoveries and inventions just sat on the shelf. 

Birch Evans Bayh Jr. served Indiana in the U.S. Senate from 1963 until 1981.  Senator Bob Dole served Kansas from 1969 until 1996.

Joe Allen with the Bayh-Dole Coalition discusses possible risks to research if existing law is changed.

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