US auditors released a study on Friday (June 6), criticizing the deal the National Institutes of Health (NIH) struck with drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb to get the anticancer drug Taxol to market quickly.

The report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) said NIH's pact with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) recovered only $35 million in royalty payments for Taxol after taxpayers spent $484 million to develop the best selling cancer drug in history.

Further, federal auditors said NIH failed to get adequate proof that BMS would sell Taxol at a reasonable price before handing over exclusive rights to make and market the drug developed by government-funded research. The company's sales revenue from Taxol was $9 billion between 1993 and 2002.

In a response, NIH said the auditors failed to recognize all the public benefits derived from NIH funding of the basic science behind paclitaxel, the active compound in Taxol. The GAO failed,...

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