Magazine Article | December 7, 2010

Improving Global Health Through Advances In Pharmaceutical Sciences

Source: Life Science Leader

By Danny Shen, Ph. D.

The future success of our industry will largely depend on our ability to cooperate internationally. The face of our industry is changing, and although this may present a number of short-term challenges, the change is for the better — it does present a wealth of opportunities in areas previously underserved or in some cases not served at all. At the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), we attempted to encapsulate this global trend in our annual meeting this year by teaming with the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) to bring together pharmaceutical scientists and pharmacists from more than 60 countries to exchange knowledge and ideas for advancing global health.

The meeting this year, the 2010 FIP Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress (PSWC) in association with the AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition, took place amid the backdrop of our main theme, “Improving global health through advances in pharmaceutical sciences.” We couldn’t think of a more effective way to present this subject matter and the science that drives it, than by combining our annual meeting with the PSWC for the first time ever and creating the largest pharmaceutical sciences meeting in history.

The global health focus of the 2010 PSWC was anchored by the keynote speaker for our opening session, Dr. Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. He discussed the future of global health through the lens of an international nonprofit foundation that has over $7 billion in programs directed at applying technologies to address major health challenges of the developing world. Also, our programming featured a three-part symposia, “Pharmaceuticals without Borders,” that focused on the developing and delivering of medicines to underserved populations, regulatory and supply chain challenges, and ensuring the integrity and quality of medicines reaching the patient.

Counterfeit Medicine
Another major topic that received attention is the battle against counterfeit medicine. Ensuring that individuals receive safe and effective medicine is imperative, and whether one works in industry, academia, or government, we all have a responsibility to identify and, where it makes sense, implement technologies that can help recognize counterfeit drugs and remove them from the supply chain. The fight against counterfeit drugs poses an immense challenge for everyone from manufacturers to packagers to consumers, and we have to remain committed to talking openly with each other and finding smart solutions that can help keep products safe.

Our “Hot Topics” sessions always strive to touch on some of the more prominent areas of advancement in the field as well, and this year was no different. Some of this year’s Hot Topics included sessions on real-time release, mitigating risk in global supply chains using modern analytics, and translational biopharmaceutics.

Benefitting Future Scientists
One thing I hold very dear is the ability of a professional association such as AAPS to contribute to the betterment of a student’s future. To that end, this year’s PSWC 2010 Congress for Students and Postdoctoral Fellows was a unique offering that provided young scientists with an opportunity to network and share their ideas and research.

This “Student Congress” took place immediately prior to the PSWC event, from Saturday Nov. 13  to Sunday Nov. 14 in the convention center. This meeting offered professional development opportunities, symposia, a mentoring luncheon, and poster sessions. Topics covered included: how to advance your career in industry/government/academia, women in the pharmaceutical sciences, and life after graduate school. Hundreds of students from around the globe joined us for this gathering prior to the PSWC, and we couldn’t be prouder of the programming that was on display there, as well as, of course, the great science showcased by members of the young research community.

We couldn’t think of a better way to end the year than the way we did in New Orleans. Our friends at FIP were such great partners in helping put together this year’s meeting. I feel that the 2010 PSWC was exemplary of the international collaboration that is inherent in pharmaceutical science and technology as we enter the next decade.

Dr. Shen is a Fellow of the AAPS and a member of several other scientific societies. He is currently professor and chair of pharmacy and professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Washington. He received his doctoral degree in pharmaceutics from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1975. He also holds a Member appointment in the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.