Top-Ranking GOP Senators Demand Answers on Royalty Payments to NIH, Scientists

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  • 03/02/2023

Five Republican senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are demanding answers from the NIH about royalty payments made by third parties to employees. 

As previously reported by Human Events News, the NIH and the federal agency’s scientists received at least $350 million in royalties from third-party groups over the last decade. 

The investigation, conducted by Open the Books, found that the third-party groups are mostly pharmaceutical companies that credit NIH scientists as co-inventors on various patents.

Between roughly 2010 and 2015, the NIH disclosed 22,100 royalty payments that totaled nearly $134 million paid to the government agency and around 1,700 of its scientists. 

In a Wednesday letter to NIH Director Lawrence Tabak, Sens. Rand Paul, Rick Scott, Ron Johnson, Josh Hawley and James Lankford noted that “the agency has taken no action to disclose such payments to the public at large.” 

When Open the Books filed a FOIA request to learn more about the royalty payments, the NIH “only provided the names of the employees receiving the payments and the number of payments they received between 2009 and 2014; the amounts of the individual payments, the innovation in question, and the names of the third-party payers were redacted,” the senators wrote, per Just the News.

"Nevertheless, we believe that the American taxpayer deserves to know 1) the degree to which government doctors and researchers have a financial interest in drugs and products they support, and 2) whether any relationship exists between federal grants awarded by NIH and royalty payments received by NIH personnel," the senators added. "Additionally, Americans deserve greater transparency in how the hundreds of millions in royalty payments NIH receives are distributed, and the degree to which NIH’s leadership – already among the highest-paid individuals in the federal bureaucracy – has benefited from this 'hidden' revenue stream."

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