Ministries agree on royalties for state doctors' research

Israel Medical Association pressing for bigger share of profits for physicians.

science lab 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
science lab 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Researchers working for the government, including state hospitals, will receive 35 percent of the royalties paid for intellectual property – including new medications and technologies – that they developed in their workplaces. This is the result of an agreement, four years in the making, that was just signed by the Health and Finance Ministries.
Because doctors and researchers who are government employees have not gained financially until now – unlike those at the Hadassah Medical Organization and other institutions where personnel receive between 50% and 60% of royalties – there has been little incentive for them to devote part of their time to research.
The accountant-general in the Treasury, Shuki Oren, said it was the first time there are clear arrangements for intellectual property in state institutions, especially in hospitals.
The agreement “expresses the balance between protecting state assets and encouraging applied research while taking advantage of the potential in intellectual property to the advantage of the health system and the entire economy,” Oren said.
Health Ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu said the agreement formalizes the rights of those who do research and increases the possibility of funding through the ministry chief scientist’s office. “The ministry will continue its efforts to strengthen basic and applied medical research,” he said.
According to the agreement, 55% of the royalties will go to the hospitals and their research corporations, with the remaining 10% shared by the Health Ministry and the Treasury. The accord also sets down rules on reporting of royalties, and any state worker who does not inform his employer that he has earned money from discoveries carried out in state facilities will be punished with sanctions.
However, the Israel Medical Association, which represents most of the country’s physicians, was unhappy with the agreement. While its representatives participated in the earlier negotiations, it was not included in the final ones, said IMA spokeswoman Ronit Schwartz Ben David. The IMA demands that doctors get 50% to 60% of royalties, and not only 35%, she said.
“We have several other objections to the agreement as well. The agreement has been signed, but it can be cancelled and renegotiated.”
Schwartz Ben David maintained that no physician or doctors’ organization representative signed the agreement.
The IMA wasn’t even aware of the agreement, she said, and heard about it only from the media. She added that making such an agreement and not having an official representative sign the agreement actually violates the Patent Law.