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NIH took royalties from Wuhan lab collaborator, alleged front for Russian bioweapons: records

National Cancer Institute leader received nearly 200 royalty payments from vaccine makers. Pfizer and Moderna made more than 400 payments. OxyContin maker paid licensing fees too.

Published: August 9, 2023 11:13pm

The National Institutes of Health and its scientists received royalties from Chinese Communist Party-controlled pharmaceutical companies, including one that collaborated with a suspected source of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a Russian vaccine maker that reportedly may have served as a front for Soviet bioweapons research, according to newly disclosed records.

NIH fought to shield the identities of the entities that paid to license its taxpayer-funded inventions from the agency and individual scientists, including then-Director Francis Collins and then-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, who together received 58 payments from seven companies.

While the feds lost that fight in court, the amounts that Fauci, Collins and hundreds of other government scientists were paid in royalties remains hidden for the moment. The top 10 scientists received between 387 and 655 payments each, the new figures show.

OpenTheBooks.com sued the feds nearly two years ago when NIH refused its Freedom of Information Act requests for specifics on royalties paid to its employees by outside entities among other information. 

The initial disclosures revealed NIH received an estimated $350 million in royalties from third-party payers from 2010-2020, a figure lowered to $325 million in the latest unredacted production.

The Aug. 7 joint status report submitted by the parties says OpenTheBooks is "evaluating NIH’s productions and withholdings in light of the additional" July 31 release by NIH — nearly 3,000 re-released pages containing "certain information that had previously been withheld." They will file an additional joint status report by Nov. 6.

The removal of redactions shows that Fauci and acting NIH Director Lawrence Tabak gave "misleading, if not outright false" statements to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) when they claimed they could not identify the entities paying license fees, OpenTheBooks said Wednesday in a report on the findings.

It cites investigative reporting by Just the News founder John Solomon from nearly two decades ago at the Associated Press, based on FOIA requests that revealed royalty payments to Fauci among others. 

NIH spent $36 million to test an experimental HIV treatment developed by Fauci, which New England Journal of Medicine and Cochrane studies found ineffective. Fauci received about $45,000 in royalty payments from 1997-2004 from Chiron Corp., which was soon acquired by Novartis, which itself has since made more than 300 royalty payments to NIH. Fauci received another eight payments from Chiron since 2010.

"NIH spends billions on the industry, and now we know the industry sends millions back to NIH and its scientists," OpenTheBooks CEO Adam Andrzejewski wrote in the report.

In an interview with Just the News, Andrzejewski said the cozy relationship between NIH and drug companies raises further concerns about conflicts of interest that can affect public safety and shake public trust.

” I think during the pandemic, John, the American people started to feel that big government was very close to Big Pharma. And this is a database that shows you empirically just how close they are,” he told the John Solomon Reports podcast.

The CCP-controlled Chinese pharmaceutical companies who paid to license NIH inventions include the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm. WIBP made 64 payments, according to the newly unredacted records.

WIBP collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology to develop a COVID vaccine, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua. The FBI and Department of Energy believe it's likely SARS-CoV-2 escaped from WIV, which was recently blocked from receiving future U.S. funding. WIV denies the allegations.

One of WIBP's royalty recipients was Douglas Lowy, who has served as acting director of the National Cancer Institute three times and directed one of its research labs since 1975. The database shows he has received 192 royalty payments, including 33 from Merck and 13 from GlaxoSmithKline, which "then marketed vaccines that used Lowy’s inventions as Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix, respectively," OpenTheBooks said.

Other Chinese companies licensing NIH inventions include Yisheng Biopharma Holding with 42 payments, which has a subsidiary near NIH headquarters and partnered with the U.S. Army to develop an Ebola vaccine, and Guangzhou HeAn Biological with 24 payments, celebrated by the CDC among the "Top Grossing Licensing Agreements for 2017."

Russia's Pokrov Biologics Plant made 20 payments to NIH. "Built ostensibly as a vaccine factory for farm animals," according to a 2002 Washington Post investigation, "Pokrov operated for decades as a secret within a secret: An off-the-books participant in a clandestine military program that produced the most fearsome biological weapons ever imagined."

The makers of America's highly profitable mRNA COVID vaccines also show up repeatedly in the royalty database. Multiple Pfizer entities have made 265 payments to 83 government scientists, while Moderna made 207 payments to 43 of them, since 2009.

So does OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, which made 15 royalty payments to NIH between 2010-2013, years after the company first pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of deceptively marketing the opioid as a low addiction risk. 

A bioethics journal noted in 2020 that NIH invited Purdue Pharma into a "public–private initiative" in 2017, and that Collins "used the passive voice" to avoid naming drug companies for promoting addiction that same year. "The NIH clearly did not want to alienate the drug companies with which it wished to partner," Pennsylvania State University Bioethics Program Director Jonathan Marks wrote.

NIH and NIAID did not respond to Just the News queries on their knowledge of specific entities paying to license agency inventions, including WIBP and Pokrov Biologics Plant, and why they opposed releasing the names of the entities and continue resisting disclosure of the amounts paid.

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