Fact Check: The Bayh-Dole Act Does Not Impede Knowledge Sharing

Claim: Nature published an editorial piece insinuating that the Bayh-Dole Act limits knowledge-sharing and, in turn, prevents the latest medical innovations from reaching in-need patients.

Correction: The Bayh-Dole Act does not impede knowledge-sharing or patient access — quite the opposite. The law encourages collaborative public-private partnerships that are uniquely suited to deliver lifesaving products to people around the world in record time. Without these partnerships, many of today’s therapies and vaccines — including those developed for Covid-19 — would not exist.

Indeed, before the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, research institutions and universities did not retain ownership over patents on any discoveries that received federal funding. Instead, the government reserved that right, and they did a lackluster job of licensing the patents to private companies with the resources and expertise to turn researchers’ scientific breakthroughs into viable products. As a result, roughly 95% of patented, taxpayer-funded ideas languished on the proverbial shelf.

The Bayh-Dole Act ended this stagnation by allowing research institutions and universities to patent their discoveries and license the rights to partners in the private sector. In doing so, the law has been a tremendous catalyst for innovation. It has helped launch over 11,000 startups and commercialize over 200 medicines and vaccines. Indeed, since its passage, the percentage of new drugs first introduced in the United States has risen from less than 10% to over 60%.

The transformative impact of the Bayh-Dole Act is undeniable. It ushered in an era of unprecedented public-private collaboration, innovation, and access to cutting-edge medical products worldwide, ultimately shaping a better future for patients.

Bottom Line: This claim is false.

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