[Ip-health] Press Release--UAEM Report Card: U.S. Universities Fall Short on their Commitment to Ensuring access to Publicly-funded medicines and Combatting the Coronavirus

Merith Basey merith at essentialmedicine.org
Tue Mar 30 07:01:50 PDT 2021

CONTACT:  Joyce-Zoe Farley, Ph.D.

                        UAEM Publicist

                        +1 201.983.3787 (c)

                        communications at essentialmedicine.org


Massive Overhaul Needed: New UAEM Report Card Reveals Trouble for
Universities and their Commitment to Research Practices, Global Health
Equity, and COVID-19

Universities Aren’t Doing Their Part to Protect Access to Lifesaving

March 30, 2021—WASHINGTON, D.C.—Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
<http://uaem.org/> (UAEM) released their long-awaited 2020 U.S. University
Report Card: Global Equity and Biomedical Research. It is a critical study
of the top sixty research universities in the States scrutinizing their
biomedical research and development (R&D) policies, practices, and
performance in domestic and neglected global public health needs in access
to medicines, including their COVID-19 response.

As it stands, universities are significant players in the current
biomedical research and development system, wielding their resources and
reach to direct research and innovation where they see fit and lucrative.
Emphatically, universities’ policies dictate who can or cannot obtain
access to life-saving medicines developed with tax-payer dollars, and which
global diseases get researched and which are neglected.

“While policymakers attempting to solve the rising cost of prescription
medications often focus their efforts on the big pharmaceuticals, they
neglect to look at our nation’s universities, a group of large,
publicly-funded research institutions that conduct the foundational
research of new medicines, and often with taxpayer dollars. The way a
university transfers technology to private industry can be critical in
determining the affordability and availability of medicines around the
world. Yet, despite their general mandates to public service, less than a
quarter (22%) of schools identified in this report have made any type of
public commitment to adopt licensing strategies that would intentionally
promote global access,” said Anmol Gupta, a medical student and a member of
UAEM’s North American Coordinating Committee.

Universities were graded in the following categories: Access, Innovation,
Empowerment, and new this year Transparency and COVID-19. As of publishing,
of the sixty research universities, only two institutions have received the
highest grade, which is a “B-” (Harvard University and Georgetown
University). A stark contrast to the majority of failing grades, even with
a generous grading curve. Below are some of the key findings from the


   Fifteen percent of universities devoted no research funding to global
   health research; most devote 1-5%.

   Fifteen percent of schools devoted no medical research funding to
   neglected diseases; most devote 0.51-1.0%.

   Between 11% and 30% of university biomedical research is published in
   open-access journals.

   NO universities reported having policies that require researchers
   publish all the results of their clinical trials.

   Half of the universities have made no commitments to equitable COVID-19
   biomedical licensing practices.

Some universities, however, do continue to make improving access to
medicines and their grade a priority. “Georgetown University is extremely
pleased that its efforts in socially-responsible licensing and related
policy have been recognized by this significant change in our UAEM “report
card” score.  The Office of Technology Commercialization [OTC] has
considered access to medicines a priority topic for more than the past
decade, beginning with hosting an international Workshop on Socially
Responsible Licensing in 2009, to working with students who were concerned
about access to vaccines, to being one of the few universities to
specifically mention socially-responsible licensing and its ramifications
in our IP policy, to being a recent early signatory on both the COVID-19
Technology Access Framework and the AUTM COVID-19 Licensing Guidelines,”
said Claudia Stewart, Ph.D., Vice President for Technology
Commercialization at Georgetown University.

Despite ranking in the “Overall Top Ten” and accepting millions of dollars
of public funding for COVID-19, the following universities have made ZERO
public commitments to equitable COVID-19 biomedical licensing. This means
that there will be limited to no protection for the public of access or
affordability of COVID-19 innovations developed on these campuses.


   The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

      26 COVID-19 research projects and $91,322,135 total public funding

   University of Washington, Seattle

      3 COVID-19 projects, $21,473,537 total public funding

   Case Western Reserve University

      4 COVID-19 projects, $3,020,526 total public funding funding

"We are delighted that UAEM has chosen to promote access to vaccines
through the mechanism of the Open COVID Pledge, a lightweight and
enforceable legal framework for making intellectual property available in
combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The ethos of IP sharing that is embodied
in the Pledge can help to alleviate the enormous human suffering that
continues to emerge from this public health emergency,” said Jorge
Contreras, Law Professor at The University of Utah and member of the Open
COVID Pledge.

This document’s release comes on the heels of several recent stories by The
Washington Post criticizing actions made by powerful western countries (the
U.S. included) in hoarding the life-saving coronavirus vaccine. [They]
“received 90 percent of the nearly 400 million vaccines [doses].”
Currently, under that model, it would take years, not weeks, to get control
of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. Advocacy groups, including UAEM,
have been pushing for a global people’s vaccine <http://peoplesvaccine.org>
that is sustainably priced, available to all, and free at the point of

“Universities have a moral and ethical responsibility to the public to
openly share the intellectual property on the taxpayer-funded COVID-19
vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics we all paid to invent. [Through
Operation Warp Speed, $16 billion of American taxpayer money has been spent
on the virus.] How many more thousands have to die before American
universities decide to act? If not now, when nearly 555,000 of their fellow
citizens have perished, then when? None of us will truly be safe until
people all over the world can have access to a COVID-19 vaccine. We are
calling on universities to take action now by sharing their IP and know-how
via the WHO-recognized mechanisms, including the Open COVID Pledge and
C-TAP. There is no time to waste,” said Merith Basey, Executive Director of
UAEM North America.

Globalhealthgrades.org <http://globalhealthgrades.org>, the newly updated
report card website, features user-friendly changes reflective of the new
grading schema, including the Transparency and COVID-19 data sections,
white paper, and thoroughly detailed methodology section.

This is the third version of the US report card; the last update was
published in 2013.

To learn more, click here
for the report card media white sheet.


About Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
Universities Allied for Essential Medicine (UAEM) is celebrating 20 years
of student activism and advocacy in the global and domestic fight for
health equity and justice in access to medicines. UAEM is rooted in a
global movement of university students in 20 countries and aims to (1)
promote access to medicines and medical innovations where barriers exist
primarily by changing norms and practices around academic patenting and
licensing, supported by our own independent research, (2) ensure that
university medical research meets the needs of people worldwide and
actively supports the creation of new needs-based approaches to R&D, and
(3) empower students to respond to the biomedical access and innovation
crisis by advocating for the most promising global biomedical R&D system
that works for all. http://www.uaem.org


*Merith Basey MSc* (she/her)
Executive Director, North America
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines <http://uaem.org/>
@uaem @globalDiaBEATes


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