Med Students to UC Leaders: Make Our Medicines Affordable Worldwide

In advance of major meeting at Harvard Friday, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines urges UCs to follow other universities’ lead by promoting global access to products of UC medical research

OAKLAND, CA.  – In advance of a major meeting of university administrators at Harvard this Friday, medical and graduate students at the University of California are calling on UC leaders to sign an agreement that will make medicines developed from UC research affordable worldwide.

The Harvard meeting will address “socially responsible licensing” of university medical research, a system in which universities require drug companies developing products from their research to ensure that those medicines are sold at affordable rates in low-income countries.

UC members of the student group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) have been urging administrators to adopt these policies for several years, but top UC leaders have resisted, despite the positive response of other leading research institutions like Harvard, Yale, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

“10 million people around the world die each year because they don’t have access to medicines that already exist. Many of those life-saving drugs were first developed at universities, including here on UC campuses,” said Taylor Gilliland, a biomedical sciences Ph.D. student at UC San Diego. “It’s past time the UCs followed the lead of other schools by ensuring that the medical breakthroughs they license to commercial drug companies are sold at affordable prices in the developing world.”

On September 30, technology transfer officers from universities across the country will gather on Harvard’s campus to discuss the Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies, a socially responsible research licensing agreement signed by more than 25 institutions, including Harvard, Yale, and the National Institutes of Health.

“Students are tired of the UCs sitting back and letting drug companies charge astronomical prices for life-saving medicines that originally came out of our labs and could be saving millions of lives in poor countries,” said UAEM member Michael Lin a medical student at UC San Francisco. “The least UC leaders can do is sign on to this statement of principles at the Harvard Meeting.”

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines is a network of students in medicine, law and other fields at more than 70 universities in the US and around the world. UAEM’s student members work to ensure that university medical research addresses pressing global health needs, and that the life saving medicines research and discovered at universities are affordable to low-income patients worldwide.

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