Read on below for a brief description of the intellectual property transfer process, and UAEM's proposal to make medicine access a priority. Or, you can learn more about UAEM at the international UAEM website. There, you can learn about success stories at other universities, find UAEM publications, and learn more about why we believe that access to medicines is an important cause.
How Universities Sell Medical Technology
How does the research in university labs end up as a lifesaving drug? The process centers around intellectual property, or IP, which is knowledge that university researchers generate. The IP that involves the structure of a chemical and its effects on animals and in clinical trials can be very valuable to a company that specializes in making and selling drugs. That chemical could turn out to be a lifesaving drug, and a major asset for that company. That's why a system exists for selling this knowledge to the the industry.
Most universities have similar models for licensing IP to for-profit companies. Often, these are pharmaceuticals that can use that property to develop a product and market it for a profit. Usually, a university technology transfer office oversees licensing of patented technologies to companies. The licensee then pays royalty money to the university based on the profits of the licensed drug.
So what's the problem? The problem is that vital drugs aren't always affordable for impoverished people who need them in LMI countries. Often it isn't profitable for the pharmaceutical companies to cut prices in order to serve these low-income markets. They need revenue from highly-priced drugs in order to keep the expensive process of drug discovery and development going, and may be afraid that lower priced drugs will undercut sales in higher-income countries. But the goal of research at many universities is to make innovations for the common good, and this isn't happening. That's where we come in.