Access all areas
Medical students throughout North America are stepping up campaigns to get better access to essential drugs in the developing world, Toby Reynolds writes
Global health is moving up the agenda at universities in North America, partly because of the efforts of a student led campaign to broaden access to essential medicines.
Activists hope this momentum will help the development of new drugs and increase the availability of existing ones, which are too expensive for many people. The medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says that a third of the world's population lacks access to the drugs they need most, rising to a half in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia.
The campus movement began in 2001 with frustration over the way that intellectual property rights, particularly those owned by universities, were getting in the way of treatment. Although drug companies are still the main players in getting medicines to market, much of the work of drug development is done in universities, and they have become increasingly active in patent applications.