UAEM Targets Accessible Medicines, R&D Financing, Publicly Funded Research 13/12/2016 by Alexandra Nightingale for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)From extracurricular creativity to global campaigns, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) continues in its activities to raise awareness and explore how universities can best direct their research and innovations towards promoting global access to medicines. In the next year, UAEM will extend its national and international campaigns to address the high prices of medicines, continue to gather support for a global agreement on research and development and build on the mapping alternative R&D initiatives. UAEM at the Place des Nations, Geneva, during A2M Week From its inception, the international student organization advances that “as major contributors to drug development, universities are well positioned to influence the way medical technologies are developed and distributed, and thus can do much to help alleviate the access-to-medicines crisis.” Access to Medicines Week Last month’s annual Access to Medicines (A2M) Week, 14 to 20 November, saw a creative collection of activities and events organized by students across UAEM’s network in Europe and North America, as well as in Brazil and India. Events included a photo competition, campaign videos, film screenings, interdisciplinary panel discussions, webinars, pub quizzes and a “Run against Resistance”. Public performances, presentations and flash mobs with students in white coats made powerful statements on university campuses and communities during the week according to UAEM. Medicines more precious than diamonds: UAEM’s video shed light on high prices As part of its global campaign for a global Research and Development (R&D) Agreement, this year UAEM focused on antimicrobial resistance to highlight the fact that the current innovation system is really not needs-driven explained Ali Greenberg, advocacy and campaigns officer at UAEM. The question is whether “AMR will be a game changer on the way to a better system for medical innovation,” said Greenberg. Speaking to Intellectual Property Watch, Greenberg noted that it has been 30 years since a new class of antibiotics has been developed and that “AMR has become such a large problem that could have been proactively prevented. Now, we’re trying to find solutions in a very reactive way” which “does not lead to timely and efficient innovation.” In a press release, UAEM’s European Coordinating Committee contended that a real solution “requires a reformed R&D system in which innovation is driven by patients’ needs instead of expected profits, and where research results are accessible and affordable.” On the other hand, Greenberg outlined that alternative proposals have been put forward to address the global health threat and circumvent the limitations of the current system. Many have been listed in UAEM’s Re:Route project and can also be used for example to address a range of issues from lack of R&D for neglected tropical diseases to high prices of cancer medications. A previous IP-Watch report on Re:Route can be found here (IPW, Public Health, 25 February 2016). Assessing Alternative R&D Models and Initiatives From UAEM, University of Leipzig, Germany, A2M Week UAEM is seeking to expand on the Re:Route project by conducting a more in-depth evaluation of the mapped alternative R&D initiatives. Through the collection and analysis of data, based on key metrics relating to access, innovation and openness, from structured surveys and interviews, R&D initiatives will now be compared and ranked. The results will be presented in the form of “Re:Route Report Card” and will be expected to be available online for 10 initiatives by May 2017. UAEM believes that the assessment of initiatives can “serve as building blocks for an overarching framework to govern and guide R&D.” New Campaign on Publicly Funded Research Licensing In a new campaign at national level, entitled “Taking Back Our Meds,” UAEM aims to guarantee access to medicines for taxpayers. Currently, as outlined by UAEM, taxpayers are forced to pay multiple times for medicines: once through taxes which support public funded R&D, often at universities, and then again for medicines set at high prices. Universities licence their medical discoveries to private corporations, who then set prices with no regulation, states the campaign’s brief. In turn, the campaign’s branch in North America advocates the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of biomedical research in the world, to: Set global access licensing conditions on new federally funded R&D grants. Enforce domestic affordability rules for new medications. Take back medicines from pharmaceutical corporations that are priced out of reach. Efforts to address the issue are beginning to get underway in Canada and across Europe, with proposals being made by UAEM groups to different public funders on how to attach conditions on licensing which ensure affordability and access. UAEM North America Coordinating Committee (NA CC) member Navya Dasari, an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, explained that leading to a trickle down effect, the funder will require any university receiving funding, for example Penn, to include global access provisions in its licensing agreements. Gathering Consensus Towards a Global R&D Agreement The campaign runs in parallel to UAEM’s Global Campaign for Alternative Biomedical R&D, under which UAEM launched an academic sign-on letter. This calls on WHO member states to begin negotiations on a global R&D Agreement and one year on, the letter has obtained signatures from thousands of individuals and 450 leading academics said UAEM NA CC member Samik Upadhaya, a graduate student at Columbia University. UAEM University of Leipzig, A2M photo competition UAEM is now also working on developing a code of principles for needs-driven biomedical R&D, to clarify what the agreement should include and what principles need to be protected and put forth. Upadhaya pointed out that this was very much informed by the WHO’s Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) and the United Nations High Level Panel (UNHLP) on Access to Medicines’ report, which was released in September of this year. Among its many recommendations, both the CEWG and the UNHLP’s report call for negotiation of a binding international treaty, or convention, on research and development. “We’re trying to very clearly identify what the consensus is on how we can drive forward needs-driven innovation at a global level.” said Greenberg. UAEM and its student members will be working with allies in order to put together what will essentially be a ‘Declaration of Principles’ for academic institutions to sign onto in order to build and demonstrate consensus on to the right way to drive change in innovation, she said. UAEM’s leader at University College London, final year biomedical student and member of the UAEM’s European Coordinating Committee Julia Montaña Lopez also told IP-Watch that this week in London for example, UAEM will be addressing the UK Department of Health to ask that the UK, as part of the WHO Executive Board, proposes a new WHO open-ended meeting in 2017 to follow up on the UNHLP, CEWG and start negotiating an R&D Agreement. In addition, some members of UAEM and of nongovernmental organization Knowledge Ecology International, recently published a letter in the Lancet, on behalf of 18 organisations, asking WHO Directorate General candidates to outline their plan to facilitate discussions on an R&D Agreement. The letter can be found here. Image Credits: UAEM Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Alexandra Nightingale may be reached at email@example.com."UAEM Targets Accessible Medicines, R&D Financing, Publicly Funded Research" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.