A follow-up to our reporting on government scientists double-dipping. They’re paid by our tax money but also allowed to collect royalties for discoveries made on our dime. A watchdog group has been able to obtain some information the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, tried to keep hidden, revealing what some say are alarming partnerships with our adversaries.
Adam Andrzejewski leads the watchdog group Open the Books, which has been digging into outside money collected by National Institutes of Health, or NIH, scientists.
Adam Andrzejewski: So it’s a government scientist paid for by taxpayers and a government lab paid for by taxpayers coming up with an invention that then goes to the private sector to monetize, distribute, or enhance that invention.
The National Institutes of Health improperly withheld public documents that outline details. After a two-year-long fight, Open the Books was able to force release of 3,000 pages of material. They reflect 56,000 payments to 2,400 scientists, totaling $325 million since 2009. But a lot of crucial information was redacted or blacked out.
Andrzejewski: So we didn’t even know who paid — think pharmaceutical company. They redacted the license number. So we couldn’t track it amongst the NIH tracking system on the license for the invention.
More recently, Open the Books won the fight to get some of those redactions removed.
And along with the expected pharmaceutical companies paying government scientists in what some see as a conflict of interest, there was a surprise: foreign countries allowed to license U.S. technology in secret partnerships with the National Institutes of Health.
Sharyl What did you learn when you finally got some of that revealed?
Andrzejewski: So we know the name of the payer, and we also know that adversarial governments from around the world have licensed NIH technologies. For example, like in Russia, their animal vaccine maker who has, according to the Washington Post, deep ties into the old Soviet Union’s bioweapons program, they now license NIH technologies. You’ve got 34 companies out of China that license the technologies, including the Wuhan Institute for Biological Products. They’re the sister organization for the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is the Chinese lab implicated in the creation and release of Covid-19. U.S. scientists have partnered with the lab on controversial research funded with American tax dollars, but China refused to cooperate on the Covid investigation.
Andrzejewski says it’s alarming to learn U.S. technology is being licensed to China and other adversaries in secretive deals kept hidden from the public.
And as part of those deals, U.S. scientist are profiting — getting paid royalties from the foreign countries.
Andrzejewski: Two, the former and the current, at the time, directors of Fauci’s lab at Infectious Diseases, they receive royalties from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and so does the three-time acting director at the National Cancer Institute, Douglas Lowy. He’s a recipient of those royalties from them as well. And that company that pays at the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products is a subsidiary of Sinopharm that’s owned directly by the Chinese Communist Party.
Andrzejewski says he was surprised to learn about the government scientist who gets the most royalties. She works for the National Cancer Institute, but at a lab housed at Fort Detrick, a U.S. army facility that’s a center for bioweapons defense research and the study of foreign viruses like Covid-19.
Andrzejewski: The number one royalty receiver in the database is Dr. Melinda Hollingshead. She is the chief of biological testing at the National Cancer Institute. She has worked on military viruses of substance and significance. She actually doesn’t work at the National Cancer Institute headquarters. She works at the National Cancer Institute lab at Fort Detrick. She’s got three co-inventors. So Hollingshead and her three co-inventors are all in the top five largest royalty receivers. We asked for the ethical and financial disclosures of all four of them, and here’s what NIH said. Hollingshead’s disclosures are confidential. They literally are a state secret. So what we’re starting to connect the dots on is the melding of the military industrial complex with the complex of American health care. And the picture that is starting to come to fruition is one of a very close association with the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.
Sharyl (on-camera): Incredibly, the name of the drugs or inventions that government scientist are getting paid royalties on are still redacted by the National Institutes of Health. Fourteen members of Congress have asked NIH to answer what technologies we’ve licensed to adversarial countries like Russia, Belarus, and China.
Watch video here.