Universities Allied for Essential Medicines

Join UAEM for a discussion and screening of “Pills Profits Protest”

Location Updated: Medical Student Lounge, 3rd Floor, MET building

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) presents a screening and discussion of:

Pills Profits Protest
Chronicle of the Global AIDS Movement

Thursday, October 20th at 7pm
in the Medical Student Lounge, 3rd Floor, Medical Education and Telemedicine building
*Please enter via the central staircase in the building’s atrium, signs will guide you the rest of the way* 

Please click here to RSVP

The evening will begin with a brief overview from the leaders of the UAEM chapter here on how big Pharma has prevented millions of people from getting access to essential medicines due to the excessive protection of intellectual property rights and quest for higher profits. Snacks and refreshments will be provided, but please RSVP above so we know how much to bring and how big of a room to request.

About the documentary:

“Pills Profits Protest” examines critical junctures in the battle for access to HIV treatment as the poorest and most marginalized individuals confront larger powers, including governments, corporate bodies and a multinational drug industry that is motivated by profit. At the heart of this documentary is a thorny question: Can the world afford universal HIV treatment? At what cost? What will be the global cost if we fail to treat and save 40 million people now?


October 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Op-Ed in the Guardian: “Put humanity first when it comes to research”

The following op-ed was published in the UCSD Guardian student newspaper on November 29, 2010:

Dear Editor,

UC San Diego’s motto is “Local Impact, National Influence, Global Reach.” UCSD undoubtedly has a significant
impact on the local economy and influences national discourse in many areas of study. But how far across the globe do the innovations and technologies created at UCSD reach? The answer is: not far enough.

UCSD has not made a concerted effort to ensure many of the university’s groundbreaking research discoveries will reach those in most desperate need of its innovations. If a scientist in the UCSD School of Medicine developed a breakthrough HIV/AIDS treatment, it would be licensed to a pharmaceutical company for clinical testing and manufacture. There is no policy at UCSD that would require that company to sell the HIV/AIDS drug at a price that patients in the developing world could afford, or allow another company to produce it generically at a lower cost for these patients. There is no assurance that this drug developed at UCSD would reach patients in the poorest parts of the globe.

To live up to its motto, UCSD should commit to making its innovations available and affordable to millions worldwide. Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, when we are reminded of the 33.3 million people living with HIV today — 15
million of whom need immediate treatment. Only one third of these people will actually be able to access life-saving drugs. This means that 10 million people will die in the next three to four years not because treatment doesn’t exist, but because the drugs are not affordable. Many of these medicines were initially discovered in university laboratories funded by federal tax dollars. For example, UC San Francisco owns the patent for Fuzeon, a critical last-line drug used to extend the lives of patients when other therapies have failed. Without a global
policy firmly in place, no provisions were made to ensure global reach and patients continue to be denied access.

UCSD’s administrators have yet to take action. Recently, more than 20 other institutions including Harvard,
Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Duke signed onto a collective set of principles and strategies to ensure the
“equitable dissemination of medical technologies” that originate on their campuses. Even the National Institutes
of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are in support of this policy.

To maintain its place as one of the top universities, UCSD must join their colleagues in endorsing the collective
document and push for more effective policies ensuring global access to university-developed innovations. Until
then, potential medicines will continue to be signed over by UCSD to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies
with no commitment to addressing this access to medicines crisis.

The time for UCSD to act is now. The administration has been made aware of this issue for more than two years now; continuing to delay any action is not acceptable when potentially millions of lives are at risk. UCSD has the power and ability to fulfill its motto and significantly expand its global reach; all that is needed is the courage to act upon it.

— Taylor Gilliland
Doctoral Candidate, Biomedical Sciences UCSD

February 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NYTimes Article on NIH Patent Pool Entry

H.I.V.: National Institutes of Health Licenses Its Patent on a New Drug for AIDS

Published: October 4, 2010

In a move that gave official American backing to the controversial idea of a “patent pool,” the National Institutes of Health last week became the first entity to license its patent on a new AIDS drug to an entity loosely affiliated with the World Health Organization.

The rights to the N.I.H. patent on the drug, darunavir, do not mean that generic-drug makers will instantly be able to make it cheaply for poor countries, since other darunavir patents are held by private companies, including Tibotec, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

But it increases pressure on drug makers to follow suit. They have been reluctant because they fear losing the profits they could make as once-poor countries become richer, as India and Brazil have. Also, they fear losing control over quality, since a bad batch of a generic could hurt the reputations of their patented drugs. Instead, they have tended to cut private deals with generic makers.

The pool is run by Unitaid, an independent agency founded at the United Nations in 2006. Its original mission was to accept the receipts from several taxes dedicated to global health — mostly from a fee on European airline tickets. The money has been spent on AIDS drugs for children and second-line drugs.

“We ask that companies step up and collaborate so we can quickly see more affordable, easy-to-use pills getting into people’s mouths,” said Nelson Otwoma, head of Kenya’s Network of People Living with H.I.V./AIDS and a Unitaid board member.

October 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AMAZING lineup of speakers at UAEM International Conference, October 9-10th

Here’s just a taste of the wonderful lineup of speakers for this year’s annual conference:

Keynote Speaker: Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director, Public Patent Foundation

Matt Kavanagh, Director of US Advocacy, HealthGAP

Matthew Spitzer, Director, US Board of Directors, Doctors Without Borders/MSF

Emi MacLean, US Director of the Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, Doctors Without Borders/MSF

Bhaven Sampat, Department of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University

October 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UAEM International Conference Coming Up This Weekend!

Every fall, UAEM students and allies from across the world gather to build relationships, share knowledge and ideas, celebrate successes, find inspiration, and plan for the future.

This year more than a hundred students from countries like Brazil, Germany, Normay, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States will gather at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on October 9th and 10th.

For more information visit:

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UAEM Executive Director Ethan Guillen Advocates the Right to Life-Saving Medicines to AAAS Science and the Human Rights Coalition

AAAS, an international non-profit organization dedicated to advocating science around the world, invited members of the Human Rights Coalition to explore the right to access live-saving medicines.

“While science has brought progress and prosperity to many, access to essential medicines, potable water, basic sanitation and other benefits remains elusive for vulnerable and marginalized populations, Guillen and others said at a meeting of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition.

More than a third of the recently approved drugs to combat HIV/AIDS have had university patents associated with them, Guillen said. His group has been pressing schools to adopt “global access licensing” by which they agree that any medicines discovered as a result of their research will be licensed “with a concrete and transparent strategy to ensure affordable access in developing countries.””

Full story available here:

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NIH Acts on Commitment to Global Access Licensing by Licensing Patents to Medicines Patent Pool

September 30, 2010
Contact: Sara Crager
Email: sara [dot] crager at yale [dot] edu
For Immediate Release
NIH Acts on Commitment to Global Access Licensing by Licensing Patents to Medicines Patent Pool
Universities and Companies Must Take Action to Improve Access to Medicines

Berkeley – The National Institutes of Health and the UNITAID-supported Medicines Patent Pool today announced the licensing of a patent related to the HIV/AIDS medicine darunavir, following through on NIH and Obama administration commitments to manage patents in ways that will improve access to affordable medicines in poor countries.  Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and other access to medicines groups asked Obama to ensure medicines discovered with public funding would be available for low-cost production in poor countries, which the administration codified in its plan to combat global HIV/AIDS.[1]  Years of UAEM campaigning also recently led NIH, University of Illinois at Chicago, a co-discoverer of the licensed patent, and major universities such as Harvard and Yale to agree to use patenting and licensing of their discoveries to improve affordable access.[2]

“Though we must continue to fight for funding for universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, NIH Director Dr. Collins and the Obama administration deserve a great deal of credit for taking this important step,” said Ethan Guillen, Executive Director of UAEM.  “They send an important signal that universities and government must be leaders in ensuring that patents do not block access to lifesaving medicines in the countries where they are needed most.”

Other patent holders, such as Tibotec (owned by Johnson & Johnson), Merck, Abbott, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, ViiV and Emory University and Gilead Sciences, should also license their patents to the Patent Pool in order to enable the production of low-cost generic medicines for use in developing countries.  While access to additional patents will be needed to produce and sell darunavir, on the whole, universities and public institutions like NIH are key drivers for innovative HIV/AIDS medicines.  Between 1987 and 2007, fully 10 out of 30 HIV/AIDS treatments have had university patents.[3]

UAEM lauds the NIH for specifying all low- and middle-income countries as potential beneficiaries of the license, including countries such as Brazil, India and China where the vast majority of the world’s poor still live.  The NIH is sending a strong signal to universities and public institutions as well as private companies worldwide that they must live up to their missions and contribute to improved global health.  Universities who have not yet adopted global access licensing policies such as the University of California, a major holder of medicine patents, must take action to ensure their patents don’t act as a barrier to affordable medicine in developing countries.  Furthermore, universities should license their medicines-related patents to the Pool, and should follow the precedent set by the NIH in agreeing to equitable and transparent licensing terms.

In 2009, UAEM held a major conference on the patent pool which included participants from nearly all holders of patents needed by the Medicines Patent Pool.
It is hoped that the Patent Pool will facilitate access to treatment for HIV/AIDS by creating a one-stop shop from which qualified generic manufacturers will be able to get the intellectual property needed to make affordable generics for use in developing countries.

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Congress Adopts “No Generic” Biologics Proposal

On Friday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce adopted a proposal for biosimilars that provides an excessive period of monopoly while allowing vast loopholes which could allow evergreening – ie under the proposal, companies could potentially restart the monopoly period for minor tweaks to the medicine.

Read an analysis of the evergreening problem by Essential Action here.

Read a joint statement from consumer and health advocates along with individual quotes below.

Statement of Consumer Groups Regarding Adoption of Industry-Backed Eshoo-Barton Amendment to Health Care Reform Legislation

We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to adopt the BIO and PhRMA-backed amendment on generic biologics. Instead of opening the door to less expensive generic drugs and the potential for enormous savings to patients and healthcare providers, including federal and state governments, this amendment will insure that BIO and PhRMA companies can charge monopoly prices for a minimum of 12 years. The proposal that passed today will also make it much easier for brand companies to wait until the eleventh hour to make minor changes to old biologics, and then renew the 12 year marketing monopoly an unlimited number of times.

Neither the brand industry nor the supporters of the amendment have ever credibly explained why the manufacturers of brand biologics should be entitled to a guaranteed 12 years of exclusivity, which is in effect 12 years of monopoly prices, when the patent system has been adequate to protect innovation in every other industry. They have also never explained why 12 years of exclusivity is appropriate for the manufacturers of biologics, when since 1984 the manufacturers of chemical drugs have thrived with five years of exclusivity.

We are also disappointed that the majority of the Committee ignored the recent study of the Federal Trade Commission, which concluded (1) that there is no basis for granting biologics manufacturers 12 years of exclusivity and (2) that there is no evidence that their patents are weaker than the patents on chemical drugs. There are many competing studies on this subject, but the FTC is independent and unbiased and has deep expertise in laws pertaining to patents and competition.

We can only conclude that the Committee’s action reflects the continuing influence and power of Big Pharma, which has made adoption of the Eshoo-Barton amendment a high priority. We pledge to fight on the floor of the House and Senate and in every other forum that is available for a viable generic biologic program which will allow the Food and Drug Administration to approve generic biologics once valid patents have expired. If meaningful changes cannot be made, then we urge Congress to drop the generic biologics amendment from healthcare reform legislation.

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Consumer & Public Health Groups, State Legislators Ask Congress To Oppose Biogenerics Proposal

Dear Senator or Representative,

Congressional consideration of healthcare reform has two overriding goals: expand health coverage to the uninsured, and contain costs. It is widely understood that the first goal cannot be achieved absent success with the second objective.

It is therefore vital that Congress take steps to lower the price of the most expensive drug treatments, rather than aid Big Pharma and the biotech industry’s ability to price gouge consumers and the government. For this reason, we urge you to support the Promoting Innovation and Life Savings Medicines Act, H.R. 1427 and reject attempts to pass other biologics legislation that will leave affordable care out of reach.

Over the past twenty-five years safe and affordable generic drugs have been an important option for patients. However, there is an entire category of medicines – biologics – that have no generic alternatives because the FDA does not have the authority to approve them. Biologics are among the most expensive and most important drugs available to patients today. They account for 25% of all new drug products approved by FDA and cost on average 22 times more than chemical drugs. Big Pharma and the biotech companies charge so much more for biologics not because they are more expensive to manufacture, or because research & development (R&D) costs are higher, but simply because they can. Presently, there is no competition in this critical marketplace.

The Senate HELP Committee and Congresswoman Eshoo have put forward legislation that would grant unprecedented data exclusivity periods to brand manufacturers, which will ensure there is long delayed or perhaps even no generic competition. Both proposals, though very different in many ways, would guarantee brand monopolies for at least 12 years and give brands the ability to extend this monopoly even further. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has closely examined this issue and released a study stating that any amount of exclusivity is not necessary to protect this industry. The Administration also opposes lengthy exclusivity periods.

Our nation is experiencing massive healthcare costs during an economic crisis. Increasing the availability of generic biologics will be a critical element of a comprehensive and necessary health care cost containment strategy, and will provide Americans affordable choices in their healthcare. If the wrong legislation passes on this critical issue there will be no generic biologics and patients and a teetering healthcare system will continue to pay the price.

While it is disappointing, it is not surprising that one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington has spent considerable resources to ensure that they retain the ability to charge the highest prices that the market will bear. Consumers and the healthcare system cannot bear these prices any longer. We urge you to oppose generic biologics legislation that contains excessive periods of exclusivity or other unnecessary and significant barriers to generic biologic competition. Don’t let big industry interests trump sound public policy.

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanks to Cornyn and Lieberman for the FRPAA

Senator John Cornyn
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Joseph Lieberman
706 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators,

The undersigned public interest organizations are writing to express their appreciation for your leadership in sponsoring the 2009 Federal Research Public Access Act (S.1373). This legislation would extend, improve and make more permanent an earlier open access initiative involving NIH funded research.

The new legislation would require that any federal agency with a budget or $100,000 or more for extramural research develop a policy on public access to publicly funded research. Among other things, the legislation would require government funded research papers to be made available in publicly accessible Internet archives within 6 months of publication in a peer reviewed journal, and would ensure the long-term preservation of, and free public access to, the published research finding in a stable digital repository.

The Internet now provides an unprecedented opportunity to amplify and disseminate the results of medical research by making it more widely and easily available than ever before. Improving access to scientific findings will help scientists build on research, accelerating innovation that provides treatments and cures, saving and improving countless lives.

Expanding access to medical research findings is not only important for physicians and scientists but also for patients and their families. Today there are too few medical papers available online including the majority of papers supported with taxpayer funding. Access to these peer-reviewed papers will be of great benefit to doctors and patients in informing treatment decisions.

Access to many scientific papers requires expensive subscriptions and many are never placed online. Congress must ensure that the public, having invested in science, gets access to publicly funded scientific publications and that research findings are easily available to scientists, medical researchers, physicians, students and patients.

As organizations concerned with public health, access to knowledge and a fair return on public investment in the creation of knowledge, we greatly appreciate your efforts on this issue, and encourage your continued diligence in working with the 111th Congress to take the next step and pass this important legislation.

We are pleased to be part of a broad coalition, including hundreds of consumers, academics, librarians, students and many other stakeholders that have expressed their support for the Public Access Act, in order to ensure barrier-free access to taxpayer-funded research (See coalition at:

If you have questions or would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Knowledge Ecology International at (202) 332 2670.

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
Contact: Manon Ress [manon.ress at]
IP Justice (IPJ)
Contact: Robin Gross [Robin at]
Essential Action
Contact: Rob Weissman [rob at]
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Contact: Gwen Hinze [gwen at]
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
Contact: Ethan Guillen [ethan.guillen at]
OXFAM America
Contact: Rohit Malpani [ rmalpani at]

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment