Your submission will help us show that there is support for this letter which asks the University of California Board of Regents to improve access to their medicines in low-and-middle income countries by adopting the Affordable Access Plan. Whether you are faculty, alumni, student, staff, or a member of the surrounding community, your voice is vital.
Dear University of California Board of Regents,
We are Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), a global student-driven organization aimed at increasing access to medicines through collaboration with universities around the world. Our members include students and alumni of the University of California system who are deeply concerned by the ongoing and unnecessary barriers to accessing life-saving therapies discovered and developed on campus and the University of California’s limited action to enable equitable access through better licensing practices.
The UC system is uniquely positioned to be the guiding force for ensuring patient populations can access the essential medicines developed on UC campuses. The University of California (UC) is the leading entity in university innovation, granted the most patents of all university systems in the world as of 2021. Across the UC system, mission statements reflect values such as “promoting translational discoveries into public benefit” (UCSF), applying “knowledge for the betterment of our global society” (UCLA), and “seeking the well-being and security of all, as responsible stewards…with appropriate controls, accountability and transparency” (UC Berkeley). UAEM has a robust history of collaborating with the UC to promote these ideals. In 2012, UAEM students pushed the UC system to adopt global access licensing principles. UAEM has been elated to see that UC Berkeley took steps to move the principles into action with the socially responsible licensing program. However, there is still improvement needed to address access beyond a few neglected diseases.
Currently, there are substantial barriers to affordable and equitable access to the UC-developed treatments in low- and middle-income countries. For example, UC Berkeley’s ipilimumab, a groundbreaking treatment for melanoma, is largely unaffordable in non-European markets. Access is especially difficult in Southeast Asia and the Middle East where there are no price reductions. Additionally, UCLA’s life-saving prostate cancer medication Xtandi, was more than 38 times the per capita income in India.
In the wake of UC's patent case in India for Xtandi, UAEM students again went to the Board of Regents to urge them to not keep the global access licensing principles as just mere words, but action. This movement led UCLA’s Technology Development Group (TDG) to adopt the Affordable Access Plan in July 2020. The AAP (Appendix A) is a set of intellectual property provisions aimed at increasing access to all therapies developed at universities for people living in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs). The AAP’s use in UCLA’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical licenses has been met without pushback from industry licensees. This implementation has the promise to allow the university to hold licensees accountable, and has yielded promising conversations with UC Berkeley’s Chancellor and other administrators for potential implementation as a complement to the existing Socially Responsible Licensing Program.
The University of California should adopt the AAP across all its institutions as universal licensing language to prevent future therapies from being inaccessible and unaffordable in LMICs. By doing so, the UC will serve as a leader amongst universities, putting patients before profits and ultimately saving lives.
UAEM North America