Students doing right by making medicine accessible to the developing world.

In light of World AIDS Day, I'd thought I'd post a little bit about Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. It's a bit of a mouthful, but it's a student run non-profit that does brilliant things. Even though the video above is two years old, Mike Gretes does a lovely job highlighting some of what UAEM does, and there's also tons of information on their website:
Many important medicines and public health technologies are developed in academic laboratories. Their accessibility in poor nations is profoundly affected by the research, patenting and licensing decisions made by universities. We are a group of university students who believe that our universities have an opportunity and a responsibility to improve global access to public health goods
This is important for a number of reasons. One example is that it recognizes that almost all therapeutics have their humble beginnings at some lab bench at some university. This isn't necessarily the finished product, but it is often the "eureka" moment that can start the path towards a medicine with real life benefits. Because of this, that academic lab and its researchers, have this opportunity to lay down some ground rules when the discovery is ultimately marketed out to some company. For instance, they can dictate that licensing is different (amenable to generics) when circumstances compel the drug to be sold in markets that simply can't afford the usual prices set by pharmaceutical companies (think HIV medicine in developed versus developing countries). Unfortunately, this amazing opportunity is usually a missed opportunity: which is why UAEM members stay up nights thinking about ways, to advocate, educate, and guide universities to do the right thing. Anyway, if you're connected to the university system, it's a must to check it out. There might already be a UAEM chapter at your school (there is at mine). If not, there's also help available to set one up. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines


  1. David Ng as in Science Scouts?

    This sounds like one of the best ideas I’ve heard for ages.

    Sadly, I strongly suspect that Big Pharma will do their best to break it, either by litigation bombing, or by simply ignoring license terms that they don’t like, and defying UAEM and its members to do something about it.

  2. OK, I haven’t RTF(abulous)A, but I’m from a developing country, and I agree with this sentiment A LOT!

    I understand that knowledge is power, has value, but please come share it with us. Better than financing, is sharing your fantastic knowledge. Especially in areas like health, infra-structure, that could give much life result.

    I also would like to say that it doesn’t matter if you are high up in hierarchy or not. Perhaps it’s even better if not. We need the vision, sure, but just as much as the hands-on teachings. Someone who has worked in huge complex, developed world, infra-structure has a lot to tell us. That would be a lot of help, to tell us first hand. We get a lot of politicians talk, need more worker’s stories.

    I understand that there is a lot of resistance, both personal and obstacles of reality, but I imagine we have a lot to offer as well. Perhaps learn from us how we find happiness in life under different circunstances.

    Anyhow, I’m sure it will be very appreciated. Your ‘pals’ in developed country will love to have you as guests, even if for a brief vacation.


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