Public Consultation

Posted by: | June 29, 2007 | Comments Off on Public Consultation

Most research-intensive universities have a technology transfer office which handles licensing agreements between a university’s research product and the private sector. This includes small biomolecules with therapeutic promise, and encompasses many more technologies with potential for health improvement or disease treatment.

The University Industry Liaison Office at UBC has been meeting with a group of students who are part of an international network – called Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. This past year, we met with Stephen Toope, VP Research John Hepburn, UILO Director Angus Livingstone, Hubert Lai (former University Counsel) to present the two goals of UAEM which are very much in line with Trek2010:
1. To ensure that health technology end products coming out of university research benefits regions outside of the realm of a “profitable market” – ie low and middle income countries
2. To promote neglected disease research such as leishmaniasis

Several successes have ensued so far from our (ongoing) meetings:
1. The Trek2010 annual framework to measure success now includes a clause which looks at how UBC technologies have been accessible by third world countries
2. A draft policy proposal is now posted on the UILO website for public consultation.

I ask all of you to please take a look at it. In short, it is a policy which pushes towards measure of “success” of UBC’s research not in terms of monetary profit alone, but in terms of benefit to human wellfare. The policy can be found here (link). Please leave your comments on the website up there after reading through it.

Roughly 2/3 of UBC’s research activities are health related at the moment, ranging from health care ethics to water sanitation techniques. Therefore, an equitable access clause in relevant licensing agreements has large potential to benefit low to middle income countries.

To give an example: stravudine (d4t) is an anti-HIV drug which came out of a lab in Yale, and has licensed with BMS (Bristol Myers Squibbs). After much lobbying by Doctors without Borders, BMS and Yale agreed to allow for the patent to be lifted in South Africa, resulting in the cost of treatment to drop from 1500$US/year/treatment down to 30$US/year/treatment. Generic competition dropped the cost by an additional 2/3. No black market backflow to other countries has been observed.

We are currently starting to meet with federal politicians, and have made presentations to CASA in order to lobby for more CIHR/CIDA funding in order to allow for more research activities to occur in this neglected field of science. There are several researchers (faculty members, students, staff) who express keen interest in neglected disease research, but simply do not find the funding.

If you wish to learn more, visit our local and international website.


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