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Toward a Consensus

By Nicholas M. Ciarelli and Daniel J. T. Schuker, Crimson Staff Writerss

As the Gates Foundation works to bring universities’ medical innovations to the developing world, student activists are taking up the fight as well.

In a policy statement to be announced this week, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines will push higher-ed institutions to include guarantees of generic access to low-income countries in their licensing agreements with pharmaceutical companies. The student group has chapters at 32 campuses, including Harvard.

The consensus statement has drawn a slew of high-profile signatories, including four Nobel laureates and a sitting justice on the South African Supreme Court of Appeal.

“For too long, life-saving medical tools that are the fruits of university-led discovery have been denied to poor people in poor countries,” said Paul Farmer, Harvard’s Presley professor of medical anthropology and one of the signatories, in a press release. “If our universities really are to be institutions for the public good, this must change.”

Harvard’s agreement with Medicine in Need inches the University closer toward at least two of the group’s recommendations: that universities forgo their royalties to bring about discounts in developing nations, and that they partner with third-party organizations to help with drug development and distribution.

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