Students demand UCLA protect access to university-developed cancer drug

President Napolitano, University of California

Uaem-kei_act

Dear President Napolitano,

As students both within the University of California (UC) system and at other institutions, future health care providers and researchers, and organizations deeply concerned about patients' access to affordable, life-saving medications, we are writing to you as a leader within the UC system about the role of UCLA in relation to the prostate cancer drug, enzalutamide (brand name - Xtandi) developed on its campus with taxpayer dollars.

In March 2016, UCLA sold its royalty interests on three patents it held on this drug to Royalty Pharma for $1.14 billion, with almost half of this figure going back to the university.  This life-saving prostate cancer drug was developed at UCLA with the support of grants from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense. Despite this, the drug is sold at $147,000 per year per patient, which is more than two to four times the prices in other high income, high GDP countries including Canada and the United Kingdom. Further, although this drug does not have a patent in India where prostate cancer is among the top ten types of cancers, UCLA has now filed a patent claim with Delhi High Court, obstructing the introduction of an affordable generic competitor. This is alarming in that UCLA, which has developed this drug with public funding and licensed the drug without protections to ensure affordable pricing, is now acting on the behest of the pharmaceutical corporations it has sold the drug to, rather than patients.

Lives are at stake and UCLA can and must live up to its mission as a public research university. That mission is “the creation, dissemination, preservation and application of knowledge for the betterment of our global society.” If discoveries made at UCLA with public funding are priced out of the reach of ordinary people, they do not contribute to this lofty mission and they force American taxpayers to instead pay with their lives. By filing this patent claim, UCLA is actively  complicit in creating access barriers that are causing harm to prostate cancer patients worldwide.

Since our requests to the Board of Regents continue to remain unanswered, we are now requesting a public meeting to discuss this issue and to urge you to take action, including:

1. Dropping the patents claim in India

2. Meeting with our UCLA student delegation on campus

3. Upholding the UC commitments made in 2009 to implement global access licensing that would ensure that medications and medical innovations developed at UCLA are accessible affordable in low and middle income countries  

As students and alumni of the UCLA community along with partner organizations, we urge you to fight on behalf of the patients that cannot afford these taxpayer-funded drugs, rather than fight a legal battle on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours Sincerely,

Merith Basey, UAEM; Andrew Goldman KEI; Manon Ress UACT

On behalf of: Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT), Public Citizen, Other98%, People of Faith for Access to Medicines, Health GAP (Global Access Project), Treatment Action Group (TAG)

Students, Faculty & Alumni of UCLA

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Washington, DC

To: President Napolitano, University of California
From: [Your Name]

As students and alumni of the UCLA community along with partner organizations, we urge you to fight on behalf of the patients that cannot afford these taxpayer-funded drugs, rather than fight a legal battle on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry. We urge you to take action by: 1. Dropping the patents claim in India 2. Meeting with our UCLA student delegation on campus 3. Upholding the UC commitments made in 2009 to implement global access licensing that would ensure that medications and medical innovations developed at UCLA are accessible affordable in low and middle income countries