Research universities, many of them public, have joined forces with pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street firms to fight new government efforts to curtail out-of-control drug prices, saying the regulations could stifle innovation.

But these universities are also likely concerned that drug-price reforms would hamper their profits. Case in point: the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has quietly reaped more than a billion dollars in payouts from Xtandi, a lifesaving cancer drug that it developed with the help of government funding and now costs U.S. patients $200,000 a year.