jessica smith/for metro vancouver


Andrew Gray, a spokesman for Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, with a draft copy of the licence strategy yesterday.

When universities license the rights to lifesaving medicines to pharmaceutical companies they should ensure poor people in developing countries will have access to the treatment, a student group at the University of B.C. (UBC) said yesterday.

The UBC chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) announced yesterday it helped the university create a draft strategy for licences between the school and industry that takes worldwide affordable access into account. The strategy will be the first of its kind in Canada.

“Traditionally, when universities have done this process of licensing technologies to industry, global access hasn’t been a priority,” Andrew Gray, spokesperson for UAEM said. “They’ve measured their success in number of patents granted, number of licences executed, amount of money returned to the university and number of jobs created.”

The high price the pharmaceutical company sells the essential treatment to developing nations at “oftentimes leaves poor people out of luck,” he added.

UBC administration has invited the public to comment on the draft it has tentatively approved.

“If the industry ends up saying, ‘This is completely unworkable and unrealistic,’ then we’ll have to change something,” Gray said.

Preventable deaths

  • According to World Health Organization estimates, 10 million people every year die of diseases that are treatable and preventable.

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