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In a long-awaited decision, the National Institutes of Health rejected a petition urging the agency to use a controversial provision of federal law to widen access to a cancer drug by forcing the manufacturers to license their patents.

The focus of the petition was the cost of the Xtandi prostate cancer drug, which has a list price of between $160,000 and $180,000. The medicine was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, with help from U.S. taxpayer dollars — specifically, grants from the NIH and the Department of Defense. One of the chief inventors was a professor at UCLA, who later licensed the drug.


In November 2021, however, two cancer patients petitioned the NIH to effectively sidestep the patents on Xtandi by using so-called march-in rights. Under a federal law known as the Bayh-Dole Act, a government agency that funds private research can require a company to license its patent to another party in order to “alleviate health and safety needs, which are not being reasonably satisfied.”

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