University of California Should Ensure That Publicly Funded HIV/AIDS Medicines Are Available in Developing Countries, Opinion Piece Says
"HIV therapies only reach 30% of patients in need," Eric Sawyer -- co-founder of ACT UP NY, Housing Works and Health Gap and senior adviser to aids2031 -- and Jay Purcell -- who serves on the national coordinating committee for Universities Allied for Essential Medicines -- write in an Oakland Tribune opinion piece. They add, "The University of California has a huge role to play changing this statistic by following the example of Yale set in 2001 when it asked its pharmaceutical partners to slash prices of HIV medicines."
According to the authors, drug companies do not "rely on profits from patients who live on less than a dollar a day." They add that UAEM in March "presented the University of California and UC President Mark Yudof with a policy framework that would ensure publicly funded medicines are available in developing countries. We eagerly await UC's response of the proposal that has been endorsed by thousands of students, researchers and Californians." According to the authors, UC "has played a huge role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco "isolated the retrovirus and pioneered clinical treatment for patients." In addition, UC "outpaced the federal government in its research on HIV and helped make San Francisco and Los Angeles major players in the fight," according to Sawyer and Purcell.
"Disparities in health care for HIV treatment are appalling -- universities have a duty to the public, all the world's public, to ensure that their innovations treat people everywhere," the authors write, concluding that UC "will continue to produce lifesaving medicines for HIV and hundreds of other diseases. Their role is to serve the world, not the shareholders of pharmaceutical companies. Their duty is to the public, to patients and to global public health" (Sawyer/Purcell, Oakland Tribune, 4/3).