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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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First Newsletter in 2015!

A new year has started (yeah, we're a bit late), packed-full with UAEM action. To make sure you don't miss the most exquisite activities happening in UAEM Europe, we have prepared the very first issue of the year. Have a break from exam prep and school and enjoy reading!

Feel free to send us some content for the next edition
Enjoy reading, 
The Newsletter team - Andia, Chris, Irene and Yu Ri
Table of contents

The Newsletter team is now looking for local reporters! 

  • To help maintain the progress of the newsletter, we would like to have a 'reporter/editor' from every country/region in UAEM Europe. If you are reading this, please make sure you discuss it with your fellow UAEMers, to decide how to take this forward.
  • We would like someone from France, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Austria
  • We want to reach more people, so that they stay informed about activities in Europe and they get involved in European activity. 
  • The workload and the type of work  are very flexible. Currently, we do editing, writing, design, and commissioning of articles, and we devote approx 2 hours per month. No experience is necessary at all! 
FRESH NEWS

UAEM Conference 2015: London

As you may have noticed, preparations for the Annual European Conference are gathering momentum. We recently opened registration, and secured 150 participants within a matter of days!

 

A few weeks ago, the conference Organising Committee met in London to discuss the plans for the conference. There was unanimous agreement that the conference should focus on three things: (1) teaching skills and knowledge; (2) network and friendship building; and (3) providing emotional inspiration.

 

With this in mind, we have implemented some major changes to the Basel programme. The number of plenaries has been reduced, and we created many more ‘break-out’ sessions. Two of the new ideas include the ‘Open Space Guacamole’ and the ‘Hackathon’. The Open Space Guacamole will be a one and a half hour slot where students are free to dip into, and dip out of (hence the name!) various short sessions. The Hackathon is a two hour slot where UAEMers will form random groups and will be given a ‘problem’ or ‘question’ to solve. At the subsequent presentation session, prizes will be awarded to some groups. We hope that these sessions will give members flexibility over their programme, and a chance to work together with people they haven't met before!

 

All of the essential information on the conference can be found on our website. If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Chris (reddchris40@gmail.com).

 

Keep you eyes peeled for further updates!

The Conference Organising Committee
UAEM Board

Dear UAEMers Near and Far,

 

We hope you have enjoyed Christmas, and started the new year with the usual enthusiasm and determination that you bring to your work. 2015 is the fourth year of UAEM Europe’s existence and will bring many new challenges and opportunities. As an organisation, we are more widespread than ever, with new chapters appearing every year. However, as we continue to expand, organisation and co-ordination are becoming more pressing issues so we must remind ourselves of the things that bind us together: our values, our mission, and our vision to change the world.

 

With this in mind, we urge you to engage with the work of the SSWG, by taking some time to read the proposals they recently sent out (click here for more info). Now, there are a few announcements we wish to make regarding our work over the past few months.


The recruitment committee for the upcoming Campus and Campaigns Organizer are in the final stages of their work. After receiving approximately thirty applications, the committee created a shortlist of five excellent candidates who were all invited to a Skype interview. We hope to announce the successful candidate by late February. This position has been made possible by grants from the Open Society Foundation and the Camino Foundation. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful with two major EU grants (which is one of the reasons why it will be difficult to reimburse travel to the conference this year).

 

Elsewhere, we are in discussion with the pilot Global Governance Council (pGGC) about the proposed Global Leadership Annual Meeting (GLAM) to take place in Geneva in May. Our chief concern at the moment is that co-financing the GLAM will not put our European activities at a disadvantage.

 

Finally, a new website co-funded by UAEM Europe and UAEM North America, is due to go live in the coming months.

 

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us at board@uaem-europe.org or join one of our Skype calls.

 

Sincerely,

 

UAEM Europe Executive Board

Alan, Caroline, Chris, Clara, Johannes, Kush, Max and Tommi.
UAEMers around Europe

UAEM gets published: R&D gap

We interviewed Peter and Fridolin, who just published an excellent paper revisiting the 90/10 Gap paradigm that UAEMers use all the time as arguments. So now we have new evidence. And how it happened? UAEMers and researchers at the same time... 

How did you get started with the idea of the paper?

About two years ago at a German national UAEM conference, a handful of eager UAEMers questioned the scientific validity of the frequently quoted “10/90” gap. This term is meant to illustrate the fact that only 10% of global health research is devoted towards 90% of the global disease burden. We were excited when we found that these numbers were based on an ancient publication, published in 1990, and that the method they used was questionable. So there was no way out – we had to find better and current numbers to support our thesis that diseases affecting poor people are neglected in research.

 

How did you conduct your research?

First, we brainstormed about the many possibilities how to measure health research input and output. After several skype calls, we developed a sound methodology and then started to look for relevant literature. As global health as a scientific field is a rather young discipline, we found a lot of gray literature. However, at this time, the new global burden of disease study was published and provided us with plentiful data. Combined with the yearly published G-FINDER report, which tracks expenditure on distinct neglected diseases, our data was almost complete for our aim to compare disease burden and the relative amount of money spent on them.

 

What do you think of the results and how does it feel to have UAEM relevant issues be published?

It feels great! Adding scientific evidence to the global health debate and informing the community about the current state of our health R&D system is in our opinion essential for fruitful discussions. Apart from many other interesting facts, we could show that poverty-related and neglected diseases contribute to 14% of the global disease burden with only 1.4% of global health-related R&D expenditure spent on them – which is quite different to the original 10/90 gap.


Peter Philipsborn and Fridolin Steinbeis
FULL TEXT HERE: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/gha.v8.25818

Utrecht: "Expensive Drugs, available for everyone?"

On the 31st of January 14 speakers, 7 organizing committee members and more than 150 students from all over the Netherlands gathered in the city of Utrecht for the first official UAEM conference in the Netherlands.
UAEM-Utrecht (together with our partner in crime IFMSA-Utrecht) organized a conference about the Access to Medicine Crisis and the price of drugs. A great variety of key players contributed to a successful day.

After a word of welcome, Nefarma (industry association for the Dutch branches of innovative pharmaceutical companies) kicked off the conference and spoke about the Research & Development (R&D) process and the expenses of that process. This was followed by a presentation about the rights to effective medication and what we can learn about HIV/AIDS by Wilbert Bannenberg (HERA foundation).

After lunch, people were split into smaller groups for more in depth workshops. The idea was to start with a “problem round” where all problems surrounding the Access to Medicine crisis could be highlighted. We featured talks from: an ethical viewpoint (about medical research with test subjects in developing countries) as well as a researcher's viewpoint (Julia Fahrmann, DNDi & Anke Kip, PhD Leishmaniasis) about neglected diseases; MSF was present to discuss the Access Campaign; Hans Hogerzeil (prof. Global Health and working for the WHO) talked about the relationship between the WHO and pharma; and Wilbert Bannenberg discussed the issue of patents and better access to medicines.

As we believe in solutions, the second round of workshops centered around those. Huub Schellekens (Biosimilars), the Access to Medicines Index and GlaxoSmithKline all explained what their role in ensuring Access to Medicines was about. Meanwhile Prof Schellens (Oncologist & Medical Evaluation Board member) spoke about improvement of accessibility of cancer medication and Rinke van den Brink (Health editor, Dutch Broadcast Foundation) talked about why new antibiotics are scarce on the market. 

We finished the day with a panel discussion debating about various statements, led by the chair of the day Sicco de Knecht. The debate was continued under the enjoyment of drinks. We look back on a very fruitful day where we learned a lot more about all aspects of access to medicine.
Previous to this conference on the 30st all UAEM chapters of The Netherlands had assembled to discuss the future of UAEM.

Wanna know more? Don’t hesitate and contact us at: uaem.utrecht@ifmsa.nl 

Vera Stegmann
(On behalf of the organizing committee)

UAEM Francophone

UAEMers from France and Switzerland are planning to organize a common conference in French! The idea is to bring UAEM information, ideas, tools together, and facilitate useful workshops and create materials ... in French! We expect to have UAEMers from France, Switzerland, and perhaps even Belgium or Northern Africa; who knows in how many places you can find French-speaking people?
A discussion is going on right now about location, dates, themes, workshops, speakers, etc! If you wish to participate in the organization of this event or just come along as an attendee, please contact Steve Vilhem. In any case, we'll keep you posted!
UAEM Global

UAEM Winter Leadership Meeting, D.C.

North America’s yearly Winter Leadership Meeting (WLM) took place this month in Washington D.C., on February 6th-8th. Diz Gotham (ECC) and Clara Matthiessen (Board) attended the meeting from UAEM Europe and gave an update on successes and future plans of UAEM Europe, as well as participating in all North American Board/Coordinating Committee meetings - listening in, and giving suggestions from the European experience.


The weekend was inspiring and fruitful. An important change was UAEM North America’s (NA) new Executive Director (ED), Merith Basey, who brought a lot of new ideas and energy into the meeting. We have a lot of faith in Merith, as do the people who work with her. Merith previously worked with the “100 campaign”, advocating for access to affordable insulin. The two executive coordinators of UAEM Brazil, Walter and Sara, joined the meeting as well. UAEM Brazil has been growing, has secured considerable funding, and have become a stable and enthusiastic UAEM country. Current projects include high-level legal work (they have lots of law students) - you will hear more about this from them very soon, it’s a little bit secret at the moment.

 

The meeting was a mixture of a common Board and CC (Campus Coordinators) meeting and separate meetings of the CCs and the Board. The weekend culminated in a new Annual Plan for North America. Many areas of potential collaboration were identified, especially in the strategic areas of alternative R&D models and WHO advocacy.

 

Our new understanding of UAEM NA’s working, members, and philosophy will be reflected in European planning and upcoming projects. It is a real shame that UAEM Europe, UAEM North America, and UAEM Brazil don’t hang out more. But we’re told that UAEM Europe members are always welcome in Rio!

 

All the best from Clara and Dizz!

Teixobactin

About a month ago, the discovery of a new powerful antibiotic was announced. Teixobactin made headlines across all media. The company which was involved in its development, NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals, has patented teixobactin. What is it for? Can UAEM do something about it?

On January 7th 2015, a paper published in Nature (Ling et al., 517:455-459) reported a new method of culturing soil bacteria, and the associated discovery of a new antibiotic called teixobactin. Virtually no antibiotic resistance exists to teixobactin – making it a powerful treatment of resistant strains of S. aureus or M. tuberculosis, and others. Only few new classes of antibiotics have been introduced since the 1960s because the repertoire of readily culturable bacteria was limited and hence soon exhausted. Now, with this new method, we may solve the antibacterial resistance problem – at least in the short term.
 
But the patent for teixobactin is owned by the company NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals. It is this company that has used the new method of screening soil bacteria to, apparently, discover about 25 new potential antibiotics. NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and focuses on the discovery of new antibiotics and oncology drugs.
The fact that such a powerful treatment is being patented by a private company is worrying. Antibiotic resistance is sweeping the developing world. In April 2014, the WHO issued a stark warning that we are entering a ‘post-antibiotic’ era. Some studies, for instance, suggest that as many as 88% of S. aureus infections in Nigeria are methicillin-resistant. The problem is also acute in ‘BRIC’ states. Up to 95% of adults in India and Pakistan carry bacteria resistant to beta-lactams, the antibiotics of ‘last resort’. The question is: will a patented, privately owned, expensive teixobactin be able to rescue the people who really need it?
 
UAEM is drafting action plans to prevent a monopoly on teixobactin. A German research group was involved in the publication and UAEM Germany has set about drafting a letter to the researchers. Among our US counterparts, Keaton Andreas and colleagues have an ambitious, long-term press/media campaign in his mind, consisting of three levels of action:
(1) Direct engagement of NovoBiotic,
(2) International / national / local media strategies,
(3) Local grassroots organising.
“Overall, I’m looking for a highly coordinated and powerful advocacy campaign that hits at all levels.”
 
We’re hoping to hear about progress soon, as this may be another opportunity to raise not only the specific issue of one drug, but raise awareness on the whole issue of access to medicines.
If you’re also campaigning or just want to share your thoughts and ideas, please drop us an email!

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As a New Year's resolution, you can take action and participate in one of UAEM Europe's working groups! Just pick the topic you prefer and get on board!
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