Universities Allied for Essential Medicine – Amsterdam


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Description of the course
What responsibilities do universities have in addressing health inequalities? Can we radically rethink our biomedical innovation system post-pandemically? This action-oriented course bridges economics, biomedicine, law, and global health examining why our profit-driven R&D model is not delivering affordable drugs where innovations are desperately needed, such as neglected tropical diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and pathogens of pandemic importance. It will critically examine (1.) inherent biases in medical research, in which someone from a western, industrialised country is 37x likelier to be included in a medical study, (2.) why two billion people lack access to essential medicines and <3% of people in low-income countries received COVID-19 vaccines, (3.) activists’ role in protecting the right to health during pandemics. Bringing in lecturers from beyond academia (e.g. WHO, Doctors Without Borders, Third World Network) this course dares to explore what reimagining our innovation system means in practice, stimulating students to propose creative solutions.


The University of Amsterdam has had an Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) chapter since 2014, which eventually merged with the VU Amsterdam in 2018 along with the fusion of their respective teaching hospitals. UAEM-Amsterdam is working to ensure that drugs invented at the University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam are affordable and accessible worldwide for everyone that needs it. We do this by convincing our university to adopt patenting and licensing policies that ensure access for everyone globally.

Sounds ambitious? Yes, but we’ve done it before! In fact, UAEM is a global movement and has already succeeded in implementing these policies in many other universities worldwide. In fact, we started in 2001 at Yale University where a group of law students in collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières caused a dramatic 30-fold price reduction of a critical HIV drug invented at Yale. A major success that has inspired students worldwide ever since!

At UAEM-Amsterdam we contribute to the accessibility of drugs by:

  • influencing local intellectual property policy decisions and collaborating with the Academic Medical Center to implement policies that ensure global access to medicines;
  • striving towards implementing the Global Access Licensing Framework in Amsterdam UMC;
  • promoting awareness of the problems surrounding access to medicine (A2M) and neglected diseases;
  • and empowering students and academics to take action for global health.

Also inspired? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to stay posted, and check our up-to-date information booklet for more information about UAEM-Amsterdam. To join the movement, please sign up through our registration form!



Chapter leader














We will give an update about the upcoming events as soon as possible!


Minutes To Die: Screening & Discussion

22 June 2021

We are hosting a special screening of Minutes To Die, a shocking documentary about the global snakebite epidemic, on June 22nd between 19:00-21:00 CEST. Snakebite as a global health issue has a multitude of pitfalls, from poor rural medical infrastructure, to costly, ineffective antivenom, to the financial devastation families of snakebite victims face. The film is the first-ever documentary to shed light on this crisis.
We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll have three experts joining us for the screening and the panel discussion afterwards. First of all James Reid, the director of this captivating documentary will be joining us to offer his valuable insight. Dr. David Williams, a respected expert on snakebite envenoming who also oversees the roadmap strategy for snakebites at the WHO, will also be with us. And Benjamin Waldmann, project manager and leader of the snakebite campaign at Health Action International will also to be there to share his vast knowledge and experiences during the panel discussion.
You can sign up through the sign-up form in the description, attendance is free of charge!

Teaching a course for the minor Global Health at VU University

1 November 2020

We organized a two hour interactive workshop for the minor Global Health at the VU University Medic Center, which was adapted for the online learning environment. The main goal of the workshop was to introduce medical students to various local and systematic factors influencing the affordability and accessibility of essential medicines, and to learn to address the issues from different stakeholder perspectives in an interactive debate. An emphasis is put on the potential change universities and public research institutions can make.

Take Back Our Meds: Access To Medicine week

4 November 2019 to 8 November 2019

It’s already the last day of Access To Medicine week 2019. The world needs more accessible medicines, thus we should #TakeBackOurMeds2019 and fight for public return on public investment! Earlier this week, we visited the Campus of the VU University to campaign and let people join our phot-challenge. A big thanks to al the students participating!

The problem: we fund research into medicines using public money (our taxpayer money!), yet pharma companies sell drugs at high prices after obtaining these licenses/patents from universities with no strings attached.

One of the solutions: we should attach conditionalities to licenses developed with the help of public funding, so it will remain accessible for the patients who need it.

Interested in learning more? Check the report by SOMO and Wemos about drugs developed with Dutch public money: ‘Overpriced: Drugs developed with Dutch public funding’ (pdf accessible via the button below).

Teaching a course for the minor Global Health at VU University

28 September 2019

We organized a two hour programme consisting of a lecture and workshop ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases and Research and Development’ for the minor Global Health of the VU University at the VU University Medical Centre. The main goal of the programme is that students gain knowledge and awareness about different factors influencing affordability and accessibility of drugs globally, and learn to address the issue from different stakeholders perspectives.

Teaching a course at the Bildung Academy, University of Amsterdam

20 November 2018

We Have a Drug Problem

21 November 2017

De bijdrage van de universiteit aan hoge medicijnprijzen

In de afgelopen jaren  hebben buitensporig dure medicijnen steeds meer aandacht gekregen in het publieke debat. Regeringen onderhandelden over hepatitis C medicijn Sofosbuvir en een prijsstijging van 5000% voor een toxoplasmose behandeling haalde het nieuws en veroorzaakte verhitte discussies. Nu medicijnen steeds vaker buiten het bereik van patiënten zijn geprijsd, zijn medici en beleidsmakers op zoek naar oplossingen. Terwijl de private sector en de overheid een belangrijke rol te spelen hebben in de oplossing, wordt de rol van de academische wereld nog nauwelijks besproken. Ter ere van de Access to Medicines week organiseert  Universities Allied for Essential Medicines – Universiteit van Amsterdam een avond waarop we willen onderzoeken hoe universiteiten bijdragen aan de hoge prijzen van geneesmiddelen en – nog belangrijker – hoe ze deel van de oplossing kunnen zijn.

Het evenement vindt plaats op dinsdag 21 november in de theaterzaal van CREA (Nieuwe Achtergracht 170, 1018WV Amsterdam) en is gratis toegankelijk voor iedereen. Wel vragen we studenten en alumni van de UvA hun bewijs van inschrijving of collegekaart mee te nemen. Inschrijven kan via onderstaande knop.

Het programma (dinsdag 21 november 2017):

  • 19:30 uur → Ontvangst CREA.
  • 20:00 uur → Sluiten van de deuren & opening van de avond.
  • 21:30 uur → Afsluiting en borrel.

Onze sprekers:

Jorrit Kabel

Jorrit Kabel werkt sinds 2008 als beleidsmedewerker bij het Aidsfonds, waar hij onder andere betrokken was bij de succesvolle ‘Geen medicijnen is doodzonde! ’ campagne. Deze campagne richtte zich op de door patenten in stand gehouden hoge medicijnprijzen voor mensen met hiv.

Hij volgde de opleiding farmacie in Groningen en heeft zowel in Nederland als in het buitenland gewerkt. Zo werkte hij bijvoorbeeld in Nederland bij het Lareb aan ‘adverse drug reactions’ en in Namibië aan het verantwoord omgaan met medicijnen voor HIV, TB en malaria, waardoor hij de ins en outs rondom de farmacie van meerdere kanten kan belichten.

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