Conservatives’ Letter to U.S. Senate Says Preserve Bayh-Dole

By James Edwards
September 15, 2017

A group of conservative organizations has written the U.S. Senate to flag “possible amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that would undermine the Bayh-Dole Act . . . .”

The letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the proposals would “jeopardize the certainty of intellectual property rights and exclusive licensing by private-sector entities that take on the great costs and significant risk of commercializing Defense Department-funded research when these private firms succeed at turning a pharmaceutical discovery into a viable medication.”

The Senate is debating the NDAA legislation, which generally authorizes DOD programs, policy and spending levels for fiscal year 2018. The House version of this bill was passed July 14, without corresponding antipatent provisions.

Though aimed at certain pharmaceutical products, Sens. Angus King’s and Bernie Sanders’ potential amendments would throw the key to the Bayh-Dole Act’s success —certainty and exclusivity of the intellectual property associated with technology transfer in order to agree to attempt commercialization in the first place — into disarray beyond a single product or sector, the signatories contend.

Signing this letter are Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, American Conservative Union, Conservatives for Property Rights, U.S. Business & Industry Council, Tradition Family Property, Tea Party Patriots, Let Freedom Ring, Americans for Limited Government, Committee for Justice, American Business Defense Council and Christian Coalition of America.

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EDITORIAL NOTE: For more on this please read Joe Allen’s July 2017 column Proposal from Senator King Won’t Reduce Drug Prices, Just Innovation:

“Many were stunned to learn that Senator Angus King (I-ME) included language undermining the Bayh-Dole Act in the report of the Senate Armed Services Committee as it approved the National Defense Authorization Act… The King proposal gives foreign governments a powerful tool to bludgeon our life science industry. If they arbitrarily lower the price they will pay for a new drug (the vast majority of which are made in the U.S.) it can trigger the King provision. Other countries would not only get our drugs cheaper, their companies could get a compulsory license courtesy of the U.S. government to sell a drug developed with American sweat and treasure back to us. That’s one sweet deal for them– and a bitter pill for us.”

The Author

James Edwards

James Edwards consults on intellectual property, health care innovation, and regulatory and policy issues. Among other clients, Edwards advises the nonprofit group Eagle Forum on patent policy and is Co-Director of the Inventor's Project. He participates in the Medical Device Manufacturers Association's Patent Working Group. Edwards mentors start-ups and early-stage companies, largely in the med tech space, and is involved in several IP-centric projects.

Edwards served as Legislative Director to Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tenn., then a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and handled IP legislative matters. Edwards also worked on the staffs of Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. In addition, he was an association executive at the Healthcare Leadership Council. Edwards earned a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, and bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Georgia.

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