Robert F. Kennedy Jr claims in his book The Real Anthony Fauci on pages 245-246:

Dr. Fauci’s management style thrives on creating many such opportunities for his agency and its employees to participate in profitable ventures with pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Fauci’s drug development enterprise is rife with other corrupting conflicts. Most Americans would be surprised to learn, for example, that pharmaceutical companies routinely pay extravagant royalties to Dr. Fauci and his employees and to NIAID itself.


Dr. Fauci funnels the bulk of his $6 billion budget to the research and development of new drugs. He often begins the process by funding initial mechanistic studies of promising molecules in NIAID’s own laboratories before farming the clinical trials out to an old boys’ network of some 1,300 academic “principal investigators” (PIs) who conduct human trials at university-affiliated research centers and training hospitals, as well as foreign research sites. After these NIAID-funded researchers develop a potential new drug, NIAID transfers some or all of its share of the intellectual property to private pharmaceutical companies, through HHS’s Office of Technology Transfer. The University and its PIs can also claim their share of patent and royalty rights, cementing the loyalty of academic medicine to Dr. Fauci.

Once the product gets to market, the pharmaceutical company pays royalties—a form of legalized kickbacks—through an informal scheme that allows Pharma to funnel its profits from drug sales to NIAID and to the NIAID officials who worked on the product. Under a secretive, unpromulgated HHS policy, Dr. Fauci and his NIAID underlings may personally pocket up to $150,000 annually from drugs they helped develop at taxpayers’ expense.

In this description, where NIAID employees profit from working on patentable research as opposed to health research that does not lead to patents that can be used for drugs accurate? Do NIAID employees personally profit from research that leads to patents on which drugs get licensed in the way Kennedy describes?


1 Answer 1


Partially true. This NLM article does say that royalty payments are accepted. Both HHS and other government sites give the policy that the government employee must be an inventor of the patented process. As the initial research in the NIAID labs are quite intensive and often futile, depending on this research as an income stream is not a good idea. The NLM article also mentions that the average royalty payment is $9,700 and Fauci himself has received only a total of around $45,000 since 1997, a far cry from $150,000 annually.

The policy is far from secret as a Google search for government royalty turned up multiple links. NIAID is not the only agency with this policy; NASA and DOE both figure prominently in various searches. I wonder why RFK is targeting Fauci specifically.

  • Can you be more specific whether the $45,000 are per year or in total and what exact timeframe it's about?
    – Christian
    Jun 20, 2023 at 0:02
  • @Christian The article I referenced seems to be fairly specific but I could possibly justify another reading. Confirming with another source, Dr. Fauci has received a total of $45k since 1997, about $1,700/year. The average for all NIAID employees is $9,700/year.
    – doneal24
    Jun 20, 2023 at 14:31
  • $1.7K/year doesn't sound like "extravagant royalties" ...
    – Ben Bolker
    Jun 21, 2023 at 0:44
  • Removed RFK tag because...
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 21, 2023 at 2:49
  • My guess would be that the $150k per year figure come from some regulation that says that no employee can get more than that so royalties are capped at that amount. Your quoted numbers show that the average number is vastly lower and Dr. Fauci himself seems be even well below that average.
    – quarague
    Jun 21, 2023 at 6:39

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