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Six Universities Aim To Expand Drug Access In Developing Countries

Six universities have agreed to an effort to “encourage companies to give poor countries better access to drugs and medical products stemming from discoveries made on their campuses,” Bloomberg reports (Lauerman, 11/9).

For the effort – Boston University, Brown, Harvard, Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale – issued a statement (.pdf) on Monday that “describes a number of strategies that would facilitate generic production or below-market pricing,” according to a joint press release (11/9).

The principles outlined “will guide how drugs developed by scientists at the schools are licensed to companies, said Kevin Casey, a spokesman for Harvard.” According to Bloomberg, “The statement commits the schools to make ‘vigorous efforts’ to promote global access to drugs through licensing strategies. The six said they will work to include provisions that call for lower prices for drugs to treat AIDS and other diseases that afflict poor countries.”

Maryanne Fenerjian, the director of Harvard’s technology-transfer policy, said though the schools’ aim is to create guidelines that encourage drug access in developing countries, they do not want to dissuade companies from collaborating with university scientists. “The schools will also use strategies such as decreasing royalty rates to persuade companies to charge less or allow low-cost generic production of new drugs for poor patients, she said.”

The article also examines efforts by students campaigning for schools to help expand access to drugs  and includes comments and concerns about the universities’ initiative from the head of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (11/9).