Lawmakers urge NIH to combat high drug prices with patent overrides
- A newly-formed group of 50 House lawmakers is pushing the National Institutes of Health to establish new guidelines concerning the agency's so-called 'march-in rights', which allows the NIH to require drugmakers to license patents which have received federal funding.
- The lawmakers aim to stem pharmaceutical drug price gouging and have formed the Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force to lobby the administration. They argue drug prices have increased "unreasonably."
- Prices of brand name drugs rose 14.77% in 2014, according to data from market researcher Truveris.
In a letter sent to the Director of the NIH, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the lawmakers argue that simply establishing guidelines for the use of 'march-in rights' would discourage drug companies from excessively raising drug prices.
The NIH has not previously used this power, and no official guidance has been issued concerning its use. The lawmakers envisioned these rights would only be exercised when wrongdoing has occurred, so "innovation should not be threatened."
According to figures cited by the lawmakers, up to 25% of drugs designated for "priority-review" by the FDA would fall under the scope of this authority.