United States – US Senator Elizabeth Warren and another democratic lawmaker on Thursday revealed that they had written a letter to the Department of Commerce to release its policy on the grounds under which the government is allowed to seize the patents of drugs and other products developed with taxpayers’ money.

Opposition Over Drug Prices

Reuters stated that the Biden administration announced in December a move that would enable the government to assert intellectual property rights on technologies developed with taxpayer dollars if the administration considered the price of the technologies unreasonable.

The government has invited submissions on the proposal by 28 February and it is understood that the government may make a decision within days on concluding changes to march-in rights.

March-in rights that have not been exercised so far allow the government to grant additional licenses to third parties for the products arising from the federally funded research where the patent holder does not make the product available to the public at reasonable terms.

Warren and U. S. Representative Lloyd Doggett said an analysis of the public comments submitted for the proposal showed 85% were in its support.

Public Support Bolsters Government Role in Patent Rights

“As you work to finalize the guidance, we urge you to consider the overwhelming support for the framework, including the thousands of comments calling for the use of march-in authority to lower prescription drug prices,” they wrote.

Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this month attacking the Chamber’s efforts to thwart the policy.

The Chamber in March said it had embarked on a seven-figure campaign to fight the proposal and other measures that it continues to view as threats to U. S. innovation.

Industry Voices Concerns Over Proposed Changes

The Pharmaceutical Research and Industries of America (PhRMA), the leading lobby group for the pharmaceutical industry, also expressed its concern with the policy in its public comment, noting that price as a factor posed new risks and uncertainties to the already risky process of drug development.

The proposed policy applies to all technologies at any stage of development, as the draft document suggests. Past instances of march-in rights being utilized have been mainly for drugs which had been funded by the government in the early stages, as reported by Reuters.

The new policy will consider factors such as the fact that only a few patients can afford the drug and whether the drug maker is capitalizing on a health or safety concern to charge high prices.