Prizes to stimulate innovation

KEI has an interest in the general topic of prizes to stimulate innovation, with a special focus on the use of prizes to stimulate medical innovation.  The work on medical innovation prizes covers proposals for both high- and lower-income markets, and proposals that target new medical knowledge, as well as product development.

See also: /delinkage

February 2016. James Love. “Discussion paper: An economic perspective on delinking the cost of R&D from the price of medicines.” UNITAID. February 2016.

September 19, 2014. James Love, Alternatives to the Patent System that are used to Support R&D Efforts, Including both Push and Pull Mechanisms, with a Special Focus on Innovation-Inducement Prizes and Open Source Development Models, World Intellectual Property Organization, CDIP/14/INF/12.

May 15, 2012. The Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, of the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, held hearings on S.1138, the HIV/AIDS Prize Fund. The hearing statements and webcast is available here.

Subcommittee Hearing – The High Cost of High Prices for HIV/AIDS Drugs and the Prize Fund Alternative
Committee: Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. Date: Tuesday, May 15 2012, 10:00 AM. Place: 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

  • Dr. Mohammed Akhter, Director, DC Department of Health; Executive Director of the American Public Health Association from 1997-2002, Washington, DC
  • Frank Oldham, Jr., President and CEO, National Association of People With AIDS, Washington, DC
  • Suerie Moon, Research Director and Co-Chair of the Forum on Global Governance for Health, Harvard Global Health Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA
  • Joseph Stiglitz, Professor at Columbia University; winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors and a chief economist for the World Bank, New York, NY
  • Lawrence Lessig, Professor at Harvard Law School, founder of Creative Commons and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, Cambridge, MA
  • James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International; Co-Chair of Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue Intellectual Property Policy Committee, Washington, DC

April 2012. US Senate HELP asks National Academies to study medical innovation prizes, as alternative to product monopolies. (More here:

April 2012. The WHO Consultative Expert Working Group on R&D has published its report, and made recommendations on innovation inducement prizes. (More here:

Background Research on Innovation Inducement Prizes

Senator Sanders has introduced two medical innovation prize bills in U.S. Senate to de-link R&D costs from drug prices

On Thursday, May 26, 2011, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced two bills in the United States Senate that would de-link R&D costs from drug prices. The bill names and numbers are as follows:

  • The Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act: S. 1137
  • The Prize Fund for HIV/AIDS Act: S. 1138

KEI has written a blog about the bill, and memos describing each bill, formatted as a PDF in both letter and A4paper sizes.

  • Overview of the Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act, letter, A4
  • Overview of the Prize Fund for HIV/AIDS Act, letter, A4

The WHO initiative on prizes
On May 21, 2010, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to create a new consultative expert group on research and development. The resolution included, among other things, the following language:

Recognizing the need to further “explore and, where appropriate, promote a range of incentive schemes for research and development including addressing, where appropriate, the de-linkage of the costs of research and development and the price of health products, for example, through the award of prizes, with the objective of addressing diseases which disproportionately affect developing countres.” (a footnote provides a reference to Document WHA61.21, Annex, element 5, paragraph 5.3a.)

May 24, 2010. Why is there resistance to prize funds?

Interview about Prizes

Eyes on the Prize: Incentivizing Drug Innovation without Monopolies, Multinational Monitor, MAY/JUN 2009, VOL 30 NO. 3

Earlier KEI papers on innovation prizes:

2009. James Love and Tim Hubbard, Prizes for Innovation of New Medicines and Vaccines,” Annals of Health Law, Vol. 18, No 2, pages 155-186, Summer.

April 11, 2008. James Love. The Role of Prizes in Developing Low-Cost, Point-of-Care Rapid Diagnostic Tests and Better Drugs for Tuberculosis," MSF expert meeting on IGWG and R&D for tuberculosis.

March 26, 2008. James Love. Prizes, not prices, to stimulate antibiotic R&D."

November 28, 2007. James Love and Tim Hubbard. "The Big Idea: Prizes to Stimulate R&D for New Medicines." Chicago-Kent Law Review, Volume 82, Number 3 (

November 12, 2007. James Love. Would cash prizes promote cheap drugs?" The New Scientist.

Among the earlier discussion of prizes is the February 17, 2004 paper in PloS, A New Trade Framework for Global Healthcare R&D, which elaborates on “From TRIPS to RIPS: A better Trade Framework to support Innovation in Medical Technologies,” Agence nationale de recherches sur le sida/Institute d’ économie publique, Workshop on Economic issues related to access to HIV/AIDS care in developing countries, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France, May 27th, 2003.

2008 KEI Report Detailing Examples of Innovation Inducement Prizes

March 7, 2008.  Selected Innovation Prizes and Reward Programs, KEI Research Note 2008:1 

More information on Innovation Prizes:

  1. Scholarly and Technical Articles and Books on Innovation Prizes (KEI Research Note 2008:2)
  2. News stories and blogs on innovation prizes
  3. KEI policy blogs on innovation prizes

April 2009 Bangladesh/ Barbados/ Bolivia and Suriname proposals to the WHO EWG

April 2008 Barbados/Bolivia prize proposals to the WHO IGWG

Earlier US Debate on prizes to stimulate medical R&D

  • On June 14, 2007, John Edwards issued a statement on medical innovation prizes.  The sections of his health plan that deal with prizes are here.  James Love made this comment  on the Huffington Post: John Edwards: Prizes, Not Patent Monopolies.  On November 14, 2007, the WSJ reported that Edwards is beginning to talk about prizes in his campaign appearances.
  • On October 19, 2007, Senator Sanders introduced S.2210, the Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act of 2007 in the U.S. Senate.  A description of the bill, links to the text, and views of 16 experts are available here, or as a four page pdf file here.
  • The Jan 26, 2005 version of the medical innovation prize fund was HR 417.

Earlier World Health Assembly on de-linking R&D incentives from prices of medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tests.

  • In May 2007, the World Health Assembly passed resolution WHA60.30 on "Public Health, innovation and intellectual property."  This requested the WHO Director General: "to encourage the development of proposals . . . that includes a range of incentive mechanisms including also addressing the linkage of the cost of research and development and the price of medicines, vaccines, diagnostic kits and other health-care products.. . . with the objective of addressing diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries.  This is part of an important WHO debate on innovation and intellectual property rights.
  • On 30 September 2007, KEI provided this comment to the World Health Organization (WHO) Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights: The Role of Prizes in Stimulating R&D.

Earlier workshops on prizes:

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