In a further attempt to lower exorbitant medicine prices and encourage greater pharmaceutical competition, the Biden administration on Thursday said it might take the patents of some pricey pharmaceuticals away from manufacturers.
The Biden administration’s decision stems from a provision within the Bayh-Dole Act, which grants the government the right to take control of patents for inventions developed with federal funding. This provision has rarely been used, but the administration argues that it presents a valuable tool for combating the issue of high drug prices.
But the administration will “make it clear that when drug companies won’t sell taxpayer-funded drugs at reasonable prices, we will be prepared to allow other companies to provide those drugs for less,” Lael Brainard, White House national economic advisor, told reporters.
Now, in an effort to place health care at the forefront of Biden’s reelection campaign, Biden officials will present new ideas in the coming days that would build on legislation passed by Democrats that caps the cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries and gives Medicare the authority to bargain over the cost of specific medications.
The Biden administration believes this move will lead to significant savings for consumers and taxpayers. By promoting competition and driving down prices, the administration aims to make essential medications more affordable for all Americans.
This aggressive approach has been met with mixed reactions. While consumer advocates have expressed strong support, the pharmaceutical industry has condemned the move, arguing that it will stifle innovation and undermine the research and development process.
Stephane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna (MRNA.O), was summoned to testify before Congress in March after the company disclosed intentions to increase the cost of its COVID-19 vaccine to as much as $130 per dosage, infuriating Democratic U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. The Spikevax vaccine, produced by the American vaccine manufacturer, was made possible by government financing.
The legitimacy of the administration’s activities is also in doubt; some legal scholars doubt that the government has the necessary jurisdiction to confiscate patents in this way under the terms of the Bayh-Dole Act.
The Biden administration seems unfazed by the difficulties in its mission to bring down prescription costs. This historic action might change the pharmaceutical industry and improve access to healthcare for millions of Americans.