Fauci, Collins received 58 royalty payments as NIH collected $325 million from companies: records

Watchdog says record of payments for taxpayer-funded inventions should help determine truthfulness of Fauci's congressional testimony.

Published: August 9, 2023 12:03pm

Updated: August 9, 2023 12:47pm

Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci, the longtime directors of the National Institutes of Health and its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases respectively, personally received 58 royalty payments from companies to license their inventions developed with taxpayer money, newly disclosed records reveal.

Transparency watchdog OpenTheBooks.com on Wednesday published more than 1,500 pages of unredacted records identifying which companies paid which NIH scientists for which inventions and when, following a mostly successful Freedom of Information Act battle with NIH.

The 56,000 transactions add up to more than $325 million, according to OpenTheBooks, though the individual amounts for each payment and corresponding license are not listed in the records.

Fauci received 37 payments from three companies between 2010-2021: 15 from Santa Cruz Biotechnology, which creates products for medical research including antibodies and made the fifth-most payments in the royalty database; 14 from Ancell Corp., which produces immunology tolls; and eight from Chiron Corp., acquired by Novartis in 2006.

Novartis has received $17 million in NIH contract payments and $15 million in NIH grants since the acquisition. Fauci's NIAID contracted with Chiron in 2004 to help develop an avian influenza vaccine. He was the highest-paid federal employee when Fauci retired at year's end, with a $480,000 salary in 2022.

Collins, the NIH director who stepped down at the end of 2021 and then served as President Joe Biden's COVID-19 czar, received 21 payments from four companies between 2010-2018, led by 12 from genetic research firm GeneDx, which has received $5 million in federal contract payments mostly from NIH since 2008.

Four payments to Collins came from Quest Diagnostics' Specialty Laboratories, which provides biological testing services; four from Ionis Pharmaceuticals, originally named ISIS, known for RNA-targeted therapeutics; and one from Progeria Research Foundation, a nonprofit specializing in research for the congenital disorder. 

OpenTheBooks said obtaining the names and license numbers for each payment, which NIH redacted before a court ordered that information made public, were crucial for "scrutinizing these records for potential conflicts of interest or public health risks."

It will help determine whether Fauci was truthful when he told Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at a hearing last year that "I doubt" Fauci received any royalties from any entity that received NIAID money overseen by Fauci, OpenTheBooks said. 

Fauci was already confirmed to have received more than $45,000 in royalties nearly two decades earlier, when he was also NIAID director, for an experimental AIDS treatment funded by NIH, according to an Associated Press investigation. OpenTheBooks said later studies showed it had "zero efficacy" and that Fauci "never provided proof" of his claim that he'd donate the royalties to charity.

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