By Mark Tapscott | Epoch Times
Drug makers in 31 foreign countries, including China, Russia, and Belarus, paid hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties to top officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, former National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, and former National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Dr. Douglas Lowy.
New information about the third-party royalty payments was made public on Aug. 9 by OpenTheBooks.com, the Illinois-based nonprofit government watchdog that sued NIH in federal court in 2022 after the agency refused to accommodate a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to disclose names of firms behind the royalties, patents involved, or individual payment amounts.
OpenTheBooks.com is represented in the federal FOIA litigation by Judicial Watch.
"The newly released documents reveal—for the first time—the names of companies that paid NIH scientists $325 million on 56,000 transactions in third-party royalties between September 2009 and October 2020," OpenTheBooks.com said in a statement provided to The Epoch Times.
The payments went to the agency itself and more than 2,400 officials, researchers, and scientists employed by the NIH. Under current policy, NIH employees may receive up to $150,000 annually in outside royalty payments for their work that is commercialized by private firms; any payments above that threshold go to the NIH.
The NIH annually awards about $30 billion in federal research grants to more than 56,000 recipients.
"That taxpayer largess buys plenty of friends and enormous influence across the entire U.S. healthcare complex — the scientific, research, drug, therapeutic, and healthcare industries," OpenTheBooks.com said in the statement.
Drs. Fauci and Collins are the most prominent recipients of the payments, with both having served in their respective government positions for many years; they also served as key White House medical policy advisers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Dr. Fauci has feuded during Senate hearings with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over the former NIAID chief's role during the pandemic in suppressing medical research and analyses identifying China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) laboratory as the likely source of the novel coronavirus. Drs. Fauci and Collins promoted the claim that the novel coronavirus came from bat meat sold at an open-air market near the WIV lab.
Dr. Fauci also defended the secrecy surrounding the royalty payments, and in one exchange, Mr. Paul said: “Over the period of time from 2010 to 2016, 27,000 royalty payments were paid to 18,000 NIH employees. We know that not because you told us but because we forced you to tell us through the Freedom of Information Act ... Over $193 million was given to these 18,000 employees. Can you tell me that you have not received a royalty from any entity that you ever oversaw the distribution of money in research grants?”
Dr. Fauci responded, "I don't know as a fact, but I doubt it.”
In fact, Dr. Fauci—who was also the highest-paid federal employee when he retired last year—received 37 royalty payments between 2010 and 2021 in addition to his official salary of $480,000, according to the documents disclosed by OpenTheBooks.com.
The Fauci payments included 14 from Ancel Corp. for immunology tolls intended for scientific research and payments from 2012 to 2016. Another 15 payments were made to Dr. Fauci by Santa Cruz Biotechnology from 2011 to 2021.
There were also eight payments to Dr. Fauci from Chiron Corp.
OpenTheBooks.com stated: "Contracted with [Dr. Fauci's NIAID] to support the development and production of a vaccine for avian influenza (bird flu). Fauci said, 'Information generated under this task order will be important for preparing our nation and the world against new influenza viruses with pandemic potential.'
"Novartis acquired Chiron Corp in 2006. Since 2008, Novartis received $2.3 billion in contract payments from multiple federal agencies, including $17 million in contracts and $15 million in grants from NIH. This was during a period when Fauci was receiving 'Chiron' royalty payments."
Dr. Collins, who headed the NIH from 2009 to 2021, received 21 payments between 2010 and 2021. Among them were four payments to Dr. Collins from Specialty Laboratories, which "provides biological testing services and was acquired by Quest Diagnostics in 2007. The company received $40.1 million on 403 contract payments from many U.S. agencies since 2008," according to OpenTheBooks.com.
Dr. Collins got 12 payments from GeneDx, a firm founded in 2000 by two former NIH employees involved in genetics research.
"The company has received $5 million on 155 contract payments, mostly from NIH, since 2008," the statement said.
Dr. Lowy, the NCI deputy director who also has served as acting director on multiple occasions, was paid 192 separate royalties since 2009 from 32 companies. One of the Lowy payments came from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co. Ltd., "a subsidiary of the state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm," according to OpenTheBooks.com.
"In 2016, the company moved next to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and collaborates with that lab. In total, this institute made 60 royalty payments to NIH scientists during the period 2009-2019," the statement continued.
Dr. Lowy also received 33 payments from Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, which used Dr. Lowy's inventions in products known as Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix. In 2021 alone, Gardasil and Gardasil 9 generated $1.5 billion in sales for Merck.
In addition to Sinopharm and 33 other Chinese firms that made royalty payments to the NIH and its employees, Russia's Pokrov Biologics Plant made 20 payments, and BelVituniPharm of Belarus made four payments.
"This is an unstable veterinary company in a country with a reputation of rabid corruption. Belarus is a puppet satellite of Russia taking hostile actions against NATO allies where journalists are imprisoned," OpenTheBooks.com said of the Belarusian company.
A spokesman for the NIH didn't respond to The Epoch Times' request for comment.