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Op-Ed in Jacobin on Remdesivir and Public Funding

A new op-ed by David Sirota in Jacobin Magazine discusses the sky-high price tag on remdesivir and the $70 million Gilead received in public funding to develop it, calling for the use of Section 1498 and Bayh-Dole march-in rights to make medicines including remdesivir affordable. He writes:

The executive branch could invoke a long-standing patent law known as Section 1498.

“Section 1498 is a tool that the government once wielded with some frequency to tame high drug prices,” wrote Boston University’s Rena Conti and former pharmaceutical executive Paul Kleutghen in 2019. “It was used routinely by federal agencies in the 1960s and early 1970s to obtain cheaper generic drugs. Its use has waned as the pharmaceutical industry’s power grew. In 1965, the pharmaceutical lobby tried and failed to amend Section 1498 to limit the law only to instances that implicated ‘national security.’ Government officials strongly opposed any change that would ‘forgo one of the valuable powers which the Government has to assure fair prices and to remedy ‘exorbitant pricing.’ The rule remains intact today.”

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