NIH Scientists Received Millions of Dollars in Royalties from Big Pharma

A report from investigative group Open the Books found that scientists with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were paid around $710 million from big pharma groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The information was uncovered following a lawsuit filed against the NIH.

The NIH collected $710 in royalties between 2021 through 2023 from pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.

“These were payments to NIH, its leadership and scientists by healthcare entities licensing inventions created in federal, taxpayer-paid labs,” Adam Andrezejewski, founder of Open the Books, wrote.

Prior to this period, the average payment made to the NIH from healthcare organizations was less than $5 million.

The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), then directed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, received $690 million of the $710. Other institutes within the NIH received $26 million.

While all NIH institutes collectively received $325 million between 2009-2021, NIAID only received around $2 million each year.

The sudden increase of payments between 2022-2023 totals to the amount that NIAID would have received over 175 years. Fauci’s institute gained $690 million in two years, compared to $23.9 across a span of twelve years.

“NIH and NAID wasted countless taxpayer dollars illegally resisting the requirement to tell taxpayers what was happening with their tax dollars.”

The top companies paying scientists at the NIAID were: Icosavax, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, and Merck, Sharp & Dohme. These entities made royalty payments to more than 120 scientists each.

Open the Books added that the named scientists with the greatest number of payments are NIAID’s Chief of the Mast Cell Biology Section Dean Metcalfe; Arnold Kirshenbaum, whose position is unknown; former NIAID fellow Cem Akin, and NIAID’s former Chief of the Structural Biology Section, Vaccine Research Center Peter Kwong.

Thousands of other identities of those receiving royalty payments have been redacted.

One scientist, John Mascola, received a royalty payment from Moderna. Mascola directed the NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center and helped to lead Operation Warp Speed during the pandemic.

Open the Books explained that the public is likely unaware that Mascola received royalty payments from Moderna since 2018.

“So, Mascola was leading the very committee that would choose the vaccine… and Moderna had been paying Mascola royalties for his own inventions at NIAID since 2018,” Andrezejewski wrote.

Despite this connection, Mascola said he chose Moderna due to the company’s chances of success.