One of the priorities of the new Biden administration is to tackle the cost of prescription medicines, an elusive goal for many federal and state lawmakers over the past several years. However, Christopher Morten has a suggestion. As the deputy director at the New York University Technology Law and Policy Clinic, he studies patents and access to medicines. In collaboration with PrEP4All, an AIDS activist group, and three of his students, Morten has just published a “user’s guide’” to a federal law that he believes could help lower drug costs. The focus is on Section 1498, which would allow the U.S. government to use patents and compensate the owners. Unlike march-in rights, the idea has gotten little attention, but he argues its time may have come. This is an edited version of our conversation.
So what is Section 1498?