WASHINGTON (TND) — Openthebooks.com, a nonprofit government watchdog group based in Illinois, recently published a report that noted at least $325 million in third-party paid royalty payments from healthcare entities were reserved for the National Institutes of Health.
During the pandemic, many people felt that ‘big government’ was really close to ‘big pharma,’” Adam Andrzejewski, who is the founder of openthebooks.com, said during an interview with The National Desk's Angela Brown Friday morning. "Now, we at openthebooks.com know just how close they are."
Andrzejewski said the National Institutes of Health doles out about $30 billion worth of grant-making to the entire healthcare industry every year. Over the course of the last decade, he said, there was $325 million in royalty payments.
"And so, NIOH needs to open the books on those,' he said.
He said his team learned of the payments after they filed a federal freedom of information act request – but the agency ignored it. He said the group then took them to court and sued them in federal court. They finally received 3,000 pages of reports, however, the documents were redacted.
The agency is acting like they have a lot to hide,” he said. “So, they knocked out the name of the third-party payer.”
Andrzejewski and Brown also discussed the government’s $1.7 trillion spending bill. He said there are billions of dollars earmarked for “local projects that members of Congress have no business funding.”
He cited $1 million that will be used for a staircase at a beach in Monroe Cove, California “so the surfers could make their way to the waves a bit faster.” He also said $64 million is going toward a high-speed “train to nowhere” in Honolulu, Hawaii.
While both Republicans and Democrats are claiming big wins in the spending bill, not everyone is convinced it is good for the United States.
Andrzejewski said the budget includes "a significant amount of taxpayer money."
“It's $16 billion doled out on 7,000 pet projects," Andrzejewski said.
He added that $1 million has been earmarked for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio, $2 million has been earmarked for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in New York, and two earmarks totaling $3.5 million for the Irish National Heritage Museum in Maine.