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Six universities, including Brown, have endorsed a set of principles to improve access to affordable medicine in the developing world.

Earlier this month, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Boston University, the University of Pennsylvania, Oregon Health and Science University and the Association of University Technology Managers endorsed the "Statement of Principles and Strategies for the Equitable Dissemination of Medical Technologies."

The Statement supports "implementing effective technology transfer strategies that promote the availability of health-related technologies in developing countries for essential medical care," according to a press release.

The principles focus primarily on managing and licensing medical innovations. Together, these principles would "make sure the process of handing off intellectual properties to the companies is not creating barriers to getting products to the developing world," said Katherine Gordon, managing director of the Brown Technology Ventures Office.

Licensing the results of research done by universities to drug companies — called "out-licensing" — must be efficient, according to the statement.

"One of our principal goals in out-licensing is to ensure that products of the University's research are able to reach the public sector  and are appropriately developed by third parties," Gordon added.

To follow these new principles, the Technology Ventures Office will exclude provisions in agreements with third parties that would "limit global access to important medical products," Gordon said.

A "delicate balance" has to be reached when making agreements with various companies, Gordon said, because the office does not want to give these companies "the tools to segregate out poor countries" by insufficiently and unequally distributing the medications.

Though these principles will not directly affect researchers, the mission statement also includes plans to support the development of health-related technologies for diseases that "disproportionately burden individuals in the developing world, such as tuberculosis, AIDS, water-borne disease, tropical- and other region-specific ailments and parasitic infections endemic to the developing world."

"Unquestionably, these strategies are entirely in keeping with our shared mission of bringing all of our discoveries to those who will most benefit from them," said Harvard Provost Steven Hyman in a statement.

While these new principles aim to speed up the distribution of life-saving medicines to the developing world, the effects will not be immediately apparent.

"The results from this program will take a long time to be seen overall," Gordon said. "This is the beginning of a long process."


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