Status: Complete

The Union should lobby the university to implement policy that ensures they license their research in a way that benefits low and middle income countries, specifically through the Global Access Licensing Framework.

Background: Universities play crucial roles in the development of medicines. Public sector research makes up a significant proportion of world-wide spending on health research and development (R&D). Around 50% of all medicines developed receive direct or indirect support from public-sector institutions such as universities. Our research matters, the knowledge it generates is important.

Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) in universities help develop research into tangible solutions to real-world problems. This manifests through administering and licensing intellectual property rights for universities.

Licensing refers to the transfer of rights from one party to another, legalised in the form of a contract. Each license can be different, according to what the parties are able to negotiate.

The trend in recent years has been to issue exclusive licenses to pharmaceutical companies. Under this agreement, the patent rights are transferred to the pharmaceutical company, who then have the exclusive right to exploit the licensed property (if not limited by other laws). The process of licensing is a crucial point of intervention, because this is the moment where usage rights are conferred onto the private partner in a way that may affect the accessibility and affordability of the end product. Unless otherwise stated, the pharmaceutical company will be able to charge whatever they like for the final products, resulting in the situation now, where 1/3 of the world’s population does not have access to essential medicines.

UAEM: Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) is a student organization which seeks to improve access to medicines in Low-Income and Middle Income (LI & MI) countries and to increase research and development of drugs for neglected tropical diseases. UAEM operates at 70 top research institutions across Brazil, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to promote globally-minded research, licensing, and patenting. UAEM receives advice from experts in matters of intellectual property, technology transfer, pharmaceutical R&D, and healthcare delivery in resource-poor settings, in order to construct creative new approaches to improving the development and delivery of public health goods. In recent years, these have included Nobel Laureates Sir John Sulston and Paul Farmer as well as Ellen ‘t Hoen, the former executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool and former director of Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access to Medicine advocacy campaign.1

Basis of Proposal: In its ‘Manchester Manifesto’ the Manchester Institute for Science, Ethics, and Innovation put forward a compelling argument that Science itself is a public good.2 On an even more fundamental level the WHO includes access to essential medicines under the universal human right to health, and the UN mentions it as one of five measures of the realisation of this right. 3 Any activity that knowingly infringes upon access to essential medicines is therefore in danger of violating and abusing these universal rights. The access to medicines crisis should not be underestimated. According to notes from the World Health Assembly on Friday 24th of May 2013 ‘more than 1000 million people [do] not have access to essential medicines’.4 Universities are uniquely placed to influence this issue from their position as originators of vital, predominantly publically funded, biomedical research with a mandate to serve the public good.5

UAEM adopts an evidence-based approach, and has identified numerous strategies for addressing global health inequalities including Socially Responsible Licensing (SRL). SRL is an internationally recognised strategy to safeguard access to medicines, and was included in a joint WTO, WIPO and WHO report on ‘Promoting Access to Medical Innovations and Technologies’.6 Under an SRL scheme, all health-related IP that a university develops will be licensed in a way that includes clauses that safeguard access to the resultant health technologies. This should include a clause providing for nonexclusive licensing for certain geographical regions, thus allowing immediate generic production of medicines for people in LI and LMI countries. The impact of generics should not be understated. With regard to the Anti-Retro Viral (ARV) drugs used to treat HIV, generic production resulted in a reduction in drug price that is the main reason that 8 million people are currently receiving ARV treatment in LDCs and LMICs. Prices fell from $10,000-15,000 per year to $64.7

Proposal: SRL frameworks have been adopted at seven leading institutions in the UK, as well as numerous others in Europe, and over thirty in the US, including Harvard, Yale and MIT. We urge the University of Southampton to continue the movement in the UK towards ethical licensing practices that aim to maximise the impact of our research and the benefit to society. Please find attached the Global Access Licensing Framework (GALF), a fully referenced template for a SRL program which was explicitly mentioned in a recent WHO report as one of the few effective mechanisms capable of tackling the global access to medicines crisis.8 By adopting GALF, or something functionally identical, as institutional policy, the University of Southampton can rightly say it has the most progressive licensing policy in Britain. UAEM believes this will benefit the university as well as the global public. The benefits of adopting GALF include:

1. The University will enhance its reputation as one of the most upwardly mobile research institutions in the UK. For example, when Edinburgh University adopted an SRL statement they received positive coverage in The Guardian.9

2. Increased access to university developments will cause a subsequent rise in impact as measured by relevant metrics, including the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

3. An increase in the ability of the university to compete for certain funding opportunities. For example, the 8th EU funding framework ‘Horizon 2020’ now seems likely to include references to SRL conditionalities.

4. A SRL scheme will allow the university to continue with ‘Our mission: to change the world for the better’ by ensuring thatOur knowledge and technologies, developed through our research and applied through our enterprise, will have real economic and social benefit for the world.

5. Southampton could be used as a case study in UAEM’s advocacy campaigns potentially benefiting from positive publicity at a variety of national and international levels. For a recent example of UAEM’s activities, see the highly acclaimed global health report card project which was itself reported in The New York Times.10,11








6 pg 181











Hi Ilaf, 

I'm still keen to do something with this idea, but as it has been on the system for a while we're going to close it here and convert it into an Action Plan instead. If you could drop me an email on with some more details to help with this, that would be brilliant!

All the best,

Samuel Dedman (VP Education)

Friday 29th Sep 2017 12:11pm

Hi Ilaf, 

Thanks for getting in touch. This is a project which I'm keen to make some headway on, particularly since it has been a fairly long time since it was originally submitted. 

In order to best help me do this, would you be able to drop an email to with some more details and explanation, and I'll see what we can do from there. 

All the best,

Samuel Dedman (VP Education)

Friday 4th Aug 2017 1:34pm

Hi Ilaf,

Apologies that this has taken so long to get started, and has moved between so many differnet people, but my role, and the Education Zone, will be taking responsibility for this going forward! 

I am currently working on forming your ideas into a plan, and will contact you soon to get things started!


Elliot Grater, VP Education 

Monday 5th Jun 2017 3:25pm

Hi Ilaf,

Thanks for your suggestion. There has been a bit of a stall on our research on this as our President, Alex, is currently recovering from an operation. This is quite a big thing for us to lobby on, and as a consequence Alex will pick it up when he returns!


Flora, Vice-President Student Communities and Deputy President

Friday 28th Apr 2017 4:06pm