While UBC's Global Access Principles were formalized in 2007, their development and a selection of activities in line with these principles are outlined below.
Early Activities Informing the Principles (2002-2007)
A focus of Dr. Raymond Andersen's research in the UBC Departments of Earth and Ocean Sciences & Chemistry is to explore the huge diversity of undersea life as a source of lead compounds for drug development and as tools for understanding basic cellular processes. Dr. Andersen and his research group collect marine organisms from marine habitats worldwide. Some of the highest biodiversity in the world can be found in tropical reefs; hence much collecting is carried out in Papua New Guinea. Because of the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992, most countries require that each of these collecting expeditions require a formal sample collection agreement to be signed. In 2002, UBC and the University of Papua New Guinea signed a milestone agreement to share revenues from discoveries made using Papuan New Guinean marine life. Dr. Andersen's group and UBC were considered leaders in this area, and UBC's revenue sharing formula became widely used as an extremely fair model to deal with revenue arising from licensing the products of bioprospecting. In 2008, UBC and the University of Papua New Guinea extended their initial agreement dating back to 2002, with the funds supporting the country's exchange and education programs and marine conservation activities.
In 2003, the sudden outbreak of the SARS epidemic prompted intensive research, and in April 2003, the UBC Michael Smith Genomic Science Centre generated international acclaim in becoming the first lab in the world to determine the SARS genomic sequence. This was the start of an international research consortium, the SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative (SAVI) aiming to fast-track a human SARS vaccine. With backing from provincial government, the initiative was led by BCCDC, PHSA, MSFHR and UBC, and provided an unprecedented rapid research response to an emerging infectious disease. This collaborative model not only produced a vaccine within a year, but also provided a new model of scientific collaboration to solve global health emergencies.
In 2005, Dr. Brett Finlay was awarded over $10m in research funding through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to find ways of boosting the body’s immune system to fight infectious disease in developing nations as part of the Grand Global Challenges. A part of this award required global access strategies to be developed by UBC, and the UILO, played a key role in handling and developing agreements relating to this award, including collaborating with industry partner Inimex.
Development of the Principles (2007)
At about the time of the Grand Global Challenges Award, the UBC Chapter of the student group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UBC-UAEM) approached UILO in order to see how UBC may be able to support the provision of human health discoveries to the developing world. UILO representatives and the students began discussions and developing a mutual understanding of the complexities of combining necessary business requirements with global health priorities. In 2007 the UILO, UBC-UAEM, Vice President Research Dr. John Hepburn, and UBC President Prof. Stephen J. Toope worked together to formally develop UBC’s global access principles. Once these were formulated, the UILO consulted with industry partners and the draft principles were posted for public comment on the UILO website.
After integrating feedback, in the fall of 2007, UBC became the first university in Canada to formally adopt a broad strategy to ensure global access to its technologies.
These global access terms are now included in the templates for Material Transfer Agreements and Collaborative Research Agreements managed by the Sponsored Research Group, informing UBC partners of these principles at the start of their interaction on a given project. They also inform the initial assessment of technologies when they are disclosed to the UILO, and licensing deals involving technologies with global relevance.
After the Principles (2008 onwards)
The UILO actively identifies the global access potential of new discoveries and provides support for research activities with global access impacts. It also ensures that licensing of technologies such as research tools are done whenever possible non-exclusively and for relevant technologies, will endeavour to ensure that global access provisions are included in licensing deals.
In May 2008, UBC signed the first licensing deal in accordance with these principles when Vancouver company iCo Therapeutics Inc. licensed a new oral formulation of Amphotericin B developed at the UBC Wasan Lab by Dr. Kishor M. Wasan, Professor and Chair in the Division of Pharmaceutics & Biopharmaceutics, and Dr. Ellen Wasan, Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. In return for the worldwide right to develop and sell the formulation in the developed world as a treatment for blood-borne fungal infections, through subsidized pricing iCo Therapeutics will also ensure availability and accessibility of a suitable formulation to countries in the developing world to treat leishmaniasis. This relationship has developed to support a Research Chair in Drug Delivery for Neglected Global Diseases held by Dr. Kishor Wasan that was created in April 2009 and supported by iCo and the CIHR. In September 2009, iCo entered a partnership with Gates Foundation funding recipients, The Consortium for Parasitic Drug Development, with initial funding targeted at formulation optimization for tropical conditions.
The UILO is a founder and supporter of the UBC Neglected Global Diseases Initiative, which is developing interventions for neglected global diseases and ensuring their delivery to those in need. In addition to holding a place on the NGDI board, the UILO also initially provided office accommodation, meeting space and some communications support to the NGDI. Read more
In 2009 The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) endorsed a Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies, developed by a number of leading North American universities.
While UBC was consulted during the development of these principles, it initially withheld its endorsement pending public consultation with its stakeholders.
Following positive stakeholder consultation, which closed on December 31, 2009, UBC endorsed the AUTM Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies on January 10, 2010.
Comments were received from UBC Faculty, students and the UBC-UAEM Chapter. A summary of these comments is as follows:
All respondents fully endorsed UBC signing on to the Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies ("Statement of Principles").
Many noted that this was a good first step and appreciated the power of a coalition of credible voices as a means of encouraging change and advancing practices in this area.
Some noted that UBC's endorsement of this Statement of Principles should supplement and not supplant the UBC Global Access Principles published in 2007 which dealt with a broader range of technology application addressing issues related to the environment, food security, and sustainability.
The commitment to developing meaningful metrics in this area was welcomed. They should be clear and publicly available.
There were many suggestions for consideration when this Statement of Principles is reviewed in 2011. These include:
Ensuring that the process for revision of the Statement of Principles is open and inclusive
Including medical devices and diagnostics
Bringing more clarity to treatment of IP in countries like China, India, Russia and Brazil which have considerable manufacturing power and wealthy elite yet large proportions of the population are “patient poor” and would benefit from low cost access to medical technologies
Recognizing that generic completion is the mechanism that ensures the lowest possible price.
Many respondents applauded UBC for its leadership role in this area and its open, consultative process in the development of global access principles and practices.
Jordan Sloshower, a Canadian medical student at Yale commented, "I have always been proud of UBC for leading Canada with its strong principles on access to medicines and I would hope it will continue to lead the nation by signing on to this document."
The University of British Columbia ranked first among 54 North American universities in the University Global Health Impact Report Card, published on April 4, 2013, the first such report produced by the student-based group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM).
The only university to achieve an overall A- grade, UBC scored well for its commitment to licensing medical discoveries in ways that promote access and affordability in developing countries, reflecting the formal strategy developed by the University in 2007 in partnership with the UBC chapter of UAEM.
An effective and affordable treatment for leishmaniasis, a deadly disease that afflicts 12 million people, is now being developed with iCo Therapeutics as a result of one of the first licensing agreements to reflect this strategy. UBC has also launched a Neglected Global Diseases Initiative (NGDI) which has created an innovation hub for researchers to tackle medical issues of particular concern for the developing world.
The UAEM promotes access to medicines and medical innovations in low- and middle-income countries, and the report card evaluates how the research, patent and licensing practices of leading North American universities impact global health issues. Information was gathered via published data and university surveys, and performances were assessed in the categories of innovation, access and empowerment.
UBC received an A in the access category for socially responsible licensing practices, a B for innovation in neglected disease research, with strong marks for establishing the NGDI, and a B for empowerment through global health education, thanks to its graduate courses and conferences.
Dr. Kishor Wasan, director and co-founder of the UBC Neglected Global Diseases Initiative, and CIHR/iCo Therapeutics Research Chair in Drug Delivery for Neglected Global Diseases, said, “This honour is a reflection of the great passion and commitment of our students. The partnership and collaboration between UAEM and NGDI has helped foster this ranking and we are indebted to everyone that has supported this initiative to develop interventions for neglected global diseases and ensure their delivery to those in need.”
The University of British Columbia has made another major commitment to tackling neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis through signing up as a member of WIPO Re:Search.
As a “provider” member, UBC has committed to sharing research discoveries, outputs and know-how with other groups and companies striving to find treatments for diseases affecting the world’s least developed nations. Technologies, data, compounds and know-how can all be contributed to WIPO RE:Search, a searchable, public database of available intellectual property assets and resources, and provided at no cost to other members in order to tackle the different diseases in countries where these treatments are most needed. Beyond the sharing of resources, however, WIPO Re:Search is designed to spark new collaborations and partnerships between researchers at the different member organizations and institutions.
This is expected to be of particular value to members of UBC’s Neglected Global Diseases Initiative, (NGDI) formed in 2010 to develop interventions for neglected diseases and ensure their delivery to those in need. Involving over 35 researchers from five different faculties, the NGDI encourages and facilitates multidisciplinary research for these complex issues.
UBC’s commitment to providing global access to relevant technologies was first formally expressed in 2007, when it became the first university in Canada to publish Global Access Principles. In April 2013, its commitment and activities in this area were recognized with the top ranking in the first University Global Health Impact Report Card, produced by the student-based group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM).
WIPO Re:Search was formed in 2011 through the efforts of several of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and BIO Ventures for Global Health.