Remembering Sen. Birch Bayh

Last week, former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh died at the age of 91.

Sen. Bayh represented Hoosiers for three terms in the United States Senate (1963-1981), and in the Indiana State Legislature (1954-1962). He was the father of Evan Bayh, former Indiana governor and U.S. senator. But to us, he is most remembered for the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, also known as the Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act.  

The Bayh-Dole Act created clear patent rights and economic incentives for the private sector to advance research and invest in promising technologies and treatments from federally-funded universities, non-profit research institutions, and small businesses. The legislation facilitated technology transfer so universities and other institutions that received government funding could own the patents from their research activities and license the rights to the private sector for commercialization.

The Bayh-Dole Act revitalized the American economy and spurred the creation of the biotechnology industry. Today, the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry leads the world in medical research and the development of new medicines. It also serves as one of the country’s biggest employers, supporting more than 4.7 million jobs.  In Sen. Bayh’s home state of Indiana, the biotechnology sector employs more than 56,000 people.

In a 2012 op-ed, Sen. Bayh wrote about the legislation and patent protection as a steward that transformed federal research and development into economic growth.

This stewardship is important to us, too.

We support laws and actions that promote scientific progress and certainty; we’re careful to be good stewards and avoid actions that diminish the faith in these systems.

Thanks to U.S. patent laws and the Hatch-Waxman Act, we have a framework that fosters innovation, promotes competition, and ensures the U.S. remains a leader in biopharmaceutical R&D.

The lifeblood of the biopharmaceutical industry lies in our inventions – new, innovative medicines that can save millions of lives and reduce the need for other health care services.

Thank you, Sen. Bayh, for your lasting impact on the biopharmaceutical industry and American innovation.