domingo, 14 de abril de 2013
The University Global Health Impact Report Card was released on April 4, marking a new effort to identify the standings of leading North American research universities in bridging the gap between research and roll out of treatments for neglected diseases. The report, sponsored by the Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, assesses the performance of 54 institutions on two key aspects—commitment to innovation in research that bears on the developing world and the use of open, socially responsible technology licensing that helps to ensure affordable access.
The institutions evaluated were chosen because they are unparalleled in their funding, research output, and capacity for effecting change. However, The Report Card found gross inequities in the resources being devoted to neglected disease research—for example, less than 3% of total funding went to projects investigating neglected diseases and only ten universities had dedicated neglected disease research centres. Some did better than others. The Report Card rated the University of British Columbia as the top performer (A—), while the University of Southern California and University of Iowa ranked last (both scoring a D—). Further, the report highlights a disturbing lack of equity in socially responsible licensing and accessibility in the developing world. Only about a third of the universities included have technology transfer and licensing standards that consider social responsibility and only a small percentage of licences provide for global affordability. This is a stark finding compounded by the fact that universities rarely pursue patents in developing countries during disclosure grace periods, which has failed to spur drug manufacturers to capitalise on an open field for affordable generics—an otherwise neglected market for neglected diseases.
The Report Card points out the tremendous inadequacies of current institutional commitments, but also provides a clear set of “stretch” goals to increase access to research that could help save millions of lives. With so many resources in the hands of a small group, it's time for these institutions to extend their reach to where it's needed most.