McGill University, in conjunction with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), has committed to increasing access to life-saving medicines by adopting Global Access Licensing Principles. McGill is the third Canadian university to adopt the principles, demonstrating a dedication to ensure that any research and university-developed technologies created on McGill’s campus with potential for further development into a drug, vaccine, or medical diagnostic are made affordable to all.
Global Access Licensing Framework (GALF), the framework used to inform aspects of McGill’s new principles, provides goals and strategies for research universities to follow in the licensing of medicines developed at the universities. The framework aims to prevent patenting practices and intellectual property policies from creating barriers to the life-saving results of publicly-funded research conducted in universities’ laboratories. GALF was created with the help of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), a non-profit, student advocacy organization with chapters at universities around the world
The McGill University chapter of UAEM has worked alongside Innovation and Partnerships to create a GALF commitment best suited for McGill. Students from the McGill UAEM chapter have simultaneously worked to raise awareness of the importance of transparency and equitable licensing of medicines by passing a motion in McGill’s Student Society, meeting with members of the administration, and organizing various creative advocacy events around campus.
The finalized version of McGill’s Global Access Licensing Principles affirms McGill’s commitments to research transparency and to publishing results, commitments shared by the Montreal Neurological Institute’s Open Science Initiative. It is therefore McGill’s position that the research and development done on campus should serve the public interest by increasing research capacity, enhancing knowledge transfer, or by contributing to the development of useful products, services, and processes. Conditional licensing agreements like GALF are a step towards ensuring a public return on public investment in the production of life-saving medicines.
Included in McGill’s GALF is a commitment to annually report on its licensing activity. By issuing such a report, McGill will acknowledge the impact it can assert through patenting and licensing, an impact supported by the introduction of Global Access Licensing Principles.
Canadian universities have played an historic role in the development of life-saving drugs, for example the discovery of insulin treatment for diabetes at the University of Toronto in 1921. In 1923, insulin’s patent rights were sold for $1 by Frederick Banting who famously said, “Insulin belongs to the world, not me.” As we approach the 100th anniversary of this discovery and look to the future, McGill University and UAEM believe in the value of adopting Global Access Licensing Principles to ensure that no person dies from treatable diseases and that the life-saving fruits of biomedical research are affordable and accessible to patients across Canada and the world.
Meaghan Thurston, Senior Communications Officer
Research and Innovation
tel: (514) 398-3400
May 23, 2019