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This Newsletter aims to provide information regarding the latest successes, opportunities and changes in UAEM, as well as the most important news from the intersection of intellectual property and global health.
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Dear UAEMers, 
We want to share UAEM's Access to Medicines Week success with all of you, wherever you may be. Enjoy the photos, the attached documents and videos and, of course, keep the Access to Medicines vibe on!
The Newsletter team - Chris, Andia, Yu Ri, Irene
Table of contents
Upcoming events
  • UAEM Essay Competition: We know you are into advocacy, and we know that you are a great clickactivist and flashmobbist (from what we could see during the A2MWeek!) - but we are now looking for the best ESSAYS about access to medicines! Deadline for submissions: Dec 1st 2014.  
Access to Medicines Week
Bordeaux (France)


 

Our "Fire In The Blood" screening gathered more than 60 people at the

university. The movie was followed by a presentation by a Professor of pharmacology, specialized in microbiology and parasitology. He explained why access to medicines and drug resistance is related to species extinction: it makes some harmful species deprived of their predator, for example. It can also modify how some parasitic diseases spread due to disturbances of vectors' or reservoirs' environment. All of this is, surely, due to climate change, modification of farming techniques, but also to how we use antibiotics, or fight against mosquitoes and insects. A nice and original way of talking about other aspects of the access to medicines crisis.

-- Violette Raoult (UAEM Bordeaux)

Berlin (Germany)

When I think about A2M Week in Berlin, quite a lot comes to my mind:

  • a lot of work
  • team spirit
  • new experiences 
  • and more then anything else, a chance to spread the message! 

We started half a year ago to brainstorm what we were going to do and soon afterwards the loose collection of ideas became reality. Who could have thought that initial ideas such as an awareness run could really going to be put into action?! We managed to fill four evenings with inspiring speeches and discussions. And in the end, who could have known we would have hundreds of photos showing that Berlin cares about the injustice of access to medicines? 

 Our A2M Week included the following:

We started with our awareness run on the 2nd of November with great weather and over 250 participants and over 400 visitors.

Then the actual week started with a full-blown program including speeches from MSF, the Medi Büro and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry in panel discussions. Not only students could be spotted in the audience but people interested in Global Health from all over Germany attended these events and took part in our informal discussions with coffee and cake afterwards.

 

It's true that while spending so much time doing all of this we lost track on contemporary topics. However, it was more than overdue to get more public attention upon one of our main concerns. And the subsequent meeting already showed what a great impact it had on the recruitment of new members. This is what we desperately need all over Europe: stronger chapters so we can do more, a higher awareness level so more people can support us when needed and better cohesiveness within and between the chapters Europe-wide. Only if we all work and coordinate our actions together we will have the chance to change something in the future!

- Nadja Kutsche (UAEM Berlin)

London (United Kingdom)

One city, four UAEM chapters! The A2M week in London was jointly organised by the UAEM chapters Barts, Imperial, St George's and UCL.

On Monday of A2M week, UAEM took over Leicester Square for its pan-London flashmob. How would you organise a flashmob to raise awareness for access to medicines and neglected diseases? Have a look at how we did it - one could call it a prime example of how to teach serious stuff through enjoyable activities, but next time it'll be even better! We've also got a short video of the flashmob!
On the same evening, UCL screened Dallas Buyers Club, a biographical film of an HIV patient in the 80s which is definitely a good tool to offer people access to, well, the issue of access to medicines.
Of course it's not just flashmobs and films we planned, but also more formal events. 'TB and the patient voice' organised by StopAIDS and Results UK fitted perfectly into our schedule.
This educational event was followed by, well, another highly educational event: our UAEM Panel discussion, with a diverse set of speakers which naturally led to a fierce discussion. We've linked some relevant materials from UAEM Evidence (which you all should know - it's where you can find all the information and publications on issues which UAEM is concerned with!); you'll find the exact links and the reasons why we felt this should be read by all UAEMers!
The week closed with an event by the Royal Society of Medicine - 'Where do new medicines come from?' - and a 'Fire in the Blood' screening at Barts!






Monday, 3rd Nov: Flashmob in Leicester Square

How would you make a flashmob to raise awareness for access to medicines and neglected diseases? Perhaps you can use the following plan for a flashmob in your own town! 


Casually clothed actors (UAEMers) stagger towards the centre of Leicester Square, moaning (almost screaming). They are about to die. A large red-white pill – with the face of Manuel from Imperial College peeping through a hole of it – is waiting in the centre with speakers, in front of a poster saying “#A2Mweek – Access to Medicine. UAEM”. Whenever the speakers make a sound, one of the dying people drops to the ground – onto the poster. This continues until all actors have ‘died’.
 

Announcer:    “OH MY GOD! What is happening?”
Actor 1:         “Every 3 seconds a person in the world dies because they don’t have access to essential medication. I died of HIV in South Africa.”
Actor 2:         “I died of malaria in the Congo.”
Actor 3:         “I died of Hepatitis C, here in the UK.” … and so on.
Announcer:    “Clearly we have a DRUG PROBLEM!”
Afterwards, people handed out flyers, answered questions by curious people and got the petition signed!
 
Manuel Martin comments on the event: “It went really well! The first time we did it, even two (non-UAEM) people joined in spontaneously! One of them even stood up after everyone and said: “I died of syphilis in DRC”.
The original plan was to hold the flashmob on Trafalgar square, but we got chased out of there by the policeman moved to Leicester Square – as you can see in our video! There the police was really helpful and even helped us set up the banner and make space.
After every run-through of the flashmob we would walk around and try to get people to sign our petition. We got approximately 150 people to sign it!
All in all I thought it went pretty well – but next time it will be better!”


WATCH A SHORT VIDEO OF THE FLASHMOB HERE! 
 

On the same evening: Dallas Buyers Club screening

Profoundly touching, the 'Dallas Buyers Club' 
at UCL closed a great successful day of UAEM outreach to all sorts of public.  
‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is a 2013 American biographical drama film. The real Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey) was an AIDS patient diagnosed in the mid-80s when HIV/AIDS treatments were under-researched, while the disease was not understood and highly stigmatised. As part of the experimental AIDS treatment movement, he smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas for treating his symptoms, and distributed them to fellow people with AIDS by establishing the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’, while facing opposition from the FDA. Two fictional supporting characters (played by Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto) were composite roles created from the writer’s interviews with transgender AIDS patients, activists, and doctors.
Definitely worth watching with your friends – it is a good way of raising awareness in a fun way! 


Wednesday, 5th Nov: ‘TB and the Patient Voice’*

Jon Miller from the UCL chapter reports about the event organised by MSF Access and Results UK at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

 
“In an area as complex and controversial as the access to medicines movement, with such lofty and esoteric abstractions as the international intellectual property regime and human rights, it can be easy to become divorced from the voice that matters: that of the patient. That’s why this collaborative event by MSF and Results UK was so important. We had the opportunity to hear from Buci, who had overcome MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant tuberculosis), to become a health counsellor in South Africa, and from Zoe, who had contracted MDR-TB as a medical student, and who articulated her struggle with the side-effects and general inconvenience of treatment through use of the MSF social networking site, ‘TB & Me’. It was an informative event, and showed how storytelling, whether through innovative media or other routes, can not only challenge stigma associated with TB, but also improve compliance with treatment, shattering the misconceptions of those who would withhold drugs on such grounds. The patient voice is certainly invaluable in the fight for equitable medicines access.” 

 
Thursday, 6th Nov: UAEM Panel ‘We have a drug problem’

 

Jacob Levi and Dizz Gotham from the Imperial Chapter report on the highlight of the week: 

  1. The ‘We Have A Drug Problem’ panel was UAEM-London’s penultimate A2M week event and it was stimulating, exciting and controversial. This panel was chaired excellently by the UAEM UK National Co-ordinator Jon Miller. Jon managed to direct and navigate the heated and passionate debate in order to address many issues of access to medicines from all angles. We had a very diverse panel with contrasting opinions resulting in a fiery debate.
     
  2. In the right corner we had Ken Shadlen (LSE IP expert) and Richard Barker (IFMPA - International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations., CASMI and The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry ABPI) who argued that patent laws were not key problems to access to medicines issues. Barker argued that that most of the essential medicines listed by the WHO are not under patent and that cold chains and physical barriers were more important as access issues. Dizz Gotham responded from the audience, calling the claim “extremely misleading” and pointing out that the inclusion in the WHO list is conditional on passing a cost-effectiveness criterion, so patented drugs are systematically kept out of the list. He noted that there are no cancer drugs on the main list, while “if I understand correctly, people in developing countries still get cancer”*.
In the left corner we had the HIV expert and previous activist Roger Tatoud giving a recount of his experiences and the calm and cool Andrew Hill, presenting his recently published research on Hep C** as a case study for analysis.

*There is a UAEM Evidence post on this subject here.
**And Andrew Hill’s work
here!
  1. Alternative models of R&D were not discussed, which was a shame. We have learnt from this that it is important to have a UAEMer on the panel!
     
  2. The event was packed and attracted a lot of post-graduate students from many universities, which was great. The panel has been great for forming connections within London, and with the academics who attended.
Friday, 7th Nov: ‘Where do new medicines come from?’ by RSM

Júlia Muntanyà López from the UCL chapter reports:
“Closing the week with a controversial twist, a fraction of UAEM London attended the ‘Where do new medicines come from?’ meeting organized by the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) to learn about their perspectives and engage in challenging and productive discussions.

There's lots to be learnt from this contact and lots to do about it - while some tried to teach the 'dutifully' agreeing young people how dedicated and fair the current R&D model is, others agreed that there are gaps to be bridged and shared their new perspectives on how to promote the development of antibiotics, which UAEM should try to look at too before it is too late!"

US Fall Conference
During our fabulous A2M Week another major UAEM event took place: this year's UAEM Fall Conference at Duke University in Durham, with over 200 participants all around the globe.

During the entire weekend we delved into UAEM's current topics and activities on four different continents such as dealing with anti-microbiotic resistance, neglected tropical diseases and campus campaigns at our universities. After a lot of input about Global Health and R&D policies as well as about highlights of UAEM projects worldwide we started to act up in different themed break-out sessions, including discussions about the urgency for UAEM to focus on contemporary issues such as Sofosbuvir and relevance of Trade & Health for instance. Furthermore, it was very inspiring to learn what other chapters in other countries already had done such as implementing SRL at their universities; to hear what UAEMers do post-graduation; or to discuss about expanding UAEM to other regions such as China and difficulties coming with that.

This was also looked at in more depth at our International Meeting on Monday, where we Europeans (from France, Germany and the Netherlands) were joint by UAEMers from Brasil, Hong Kong, Nepal and India! It is fascinating how much UAEM has grown and it will be exciting to see how 'UAEM Global' will grow together in future. Also, it was our new Executive Director's first UAEM conference, Merith Basey, so all of us are really excited to work together with her in the future! 

Overall, it was a great experience to meet all these amazing UAEMers; it is a motivation for us in UAEM Europe and especially for all local chapters to keep fighting for those essential medicines!

 
- Andia Mirbagheri (UAEM Berlin)
European Leadership Meeting
Last weekend, the ECC and the Board met for the first joint meeting. We spent 2 days together, evaluating last year's activities and planning our 2015 Action Plan. It was an intense weekend, full of brainstorming, discussions, creative thinking... But we also had some time to get to know each other and to share on some experiences and advices!
We are currently working to draft our Action Plan, defining next years campaigns and prioritizing our upcoming actions and events. We will soon share the 2015 Action Plan, as soon as it is ready, for you to evaluate, comment or suggest new/different ideas. 

 
- Irene Romero (UAEM Madrid)
Panel discussion at the WTO Forum October 2014

Innovation hubs for the 21st Century: new approaches to university IP management

 

PANELISTS :

 

  • James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International

  • Marcela Paiva Veliz, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Chile to the World Trade Organization (WTO)

  • Robert Don, Discovery and Preclinical Director, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi)

  • Lukas Fendel, Executive Director, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) Europe

  • Anthony So, Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy