[Ip-health] University Report Card: Pre-Launch Lancet Op Ed

Justin Mendoza justin.mendoza at yale.edu
Mon Apr 20 10:02:23 PDT 2015

Apologies for Cross-Posting, UAEM launches its second iteration of the
report card <http://globalhealthgrades.org> tomorrow. Please contact myself
or Merith Basey (merith at essentialmedicine.org) for any questions.

Holding universities accountable for their role in advancing biomedical
research which addresses neglected health needs
By Rachel Kiddell-Monroe


Commercially driven drug development has rapidly become incompatible with
the needs of society. While people in West Africa are still in need of a
vaccine to protect them against Ebola, the most promising vaccines will not
be ready in time for this epidemic despite the fact that Ebola vaccines
have been sitting on shelves for over a decade untested on humans. Further,
the global scourge of increasing antimicrobial resistance and the
ever-escalating prices on new cancer and hepatitis C medications are
reflective of a research and development (R&D) model that simply is not

In late 2014, Tufts University estimated the average cost for private
sector drug development between 1995 and 2007 to be $2.56 billion.This is a
grossly over-estimated figure inflated by millions of dollars worth of
failed trials. Yet, already drug companies have started to reference this
in an attempt to justify the arbitrary and often astronomical pricing of
patented medicine.

In October last year, Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO, declared,
“the R&D incentive is virtually nonexistent.” It is only when governments
and society perceive themselves to be directly threatened, as was the case
with Ebola, that the inherent conflict and wrongheadedness of leaving the
development of medicines, essential public goods, in the hands of private
industry, becomes glaringly apparent. Only now are we beginning to see a
growing consensus among patients, clinicians, civil society, and
politicians that we need to develop an R&D system that focuses first on
people not profit.

Given that between one quarter and one third of new medicines originate in
a university lab, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly relying on
universities to do early stage creative research which effectively turns
publicly funded research into privately owned profit. The social mission of
academic institutions allows them to use public resources to serve and
strengthen society. Our universities can, and should, be challenging this
profit-driven system using their unique leverage to both propose and
implement solutions to create a patient- centered R&D system.
Additionally, we believe it is up to universities to show that potential
conflicts of interest created by pharmaceutical funding of university
research and infrastructure are not obstructing their social mission.

The University Report Card: Global Equity and Biomedical Research isa
student-driven project led by the non-profit organization Universities
Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM).  It serves as an advocacy tool for
universities to assess their own progress in investing in innovative
medical research that addresses global neglected health needs, as well as
focusing on the core role of universities in terms of transforming
innovation and access for all. In 2013, UAEM found that less than 3% of
university funding in the US and Canada was focused on ‘neglected
diseases’. Although neglected diseases (such as chagas, sleeping sickness
or leishmanisis) affect one in six people worldwide, those people are
virtually ignored by the current profit-driven R&D model and by our
socially- mandated and publicly- funded universities.

UAEM will be launching its second University Report Card on April 21st,
2015. The organization has made efforts to respond to constructive
criticism of the first version. The name of the Report Card has been
changed to clarify its focus, and it now addresses the number of neglected
disease research publications by each evaluated university. The new version
also includes an expanded empowerment section measuring how universities
are educating the next generation of global health leaders and also has a
greater focus on intellectual property issues.

The University Report Card is not intended to critique individual academic
commitment to global health or to target university faculty specifically.
Its focus is as an advocacy tool for students and faculty alike to draw
attention to, and hold administrations accountable for, neglected areas
within global health equity and biomedical research.

It is high time the ineffective R&D model is replaced with a new, open and
collaborative biomedical research ecosystem. The University Report Card
seeks to play a role in moving towards that goal by initiating a dialogue
with and between universities.  We are pleased to see how many universities
and research institutions have responded to this second University Report
and are taking part in finding new and impactful ways to support improved
global health outcomes worldwide.

This blog was co-authored with:

Merith Basey (Executive Director, Universities Allied for Essential
Medicines), Warren Kaplan (Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health
Center for Global Health & Development, Boston University School of Public
Health ) and Alexandra Greenberg (Report Card Student Team Leader,
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines).

 With special thanks to Jessica Farber
Wishing the best,

Justin Mendoza
Yale | School of Public Health
MPH Candidate *2015* | Health Policy
E: justin.mendoza at yale.edu
C: 269-762-2073 | @justindmendoza <https://twitter.com/JustinDMendoza>
Linkedin Available Here <http://linkd.in/1o9jLDn>

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