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Aspects of drug development in Africa

Read this short summary and reflect on what you have learned about drug development.
© University of Basel

In the third week of our course, we addressed the topic of African contributions to drug development, especially for tropical diseases.

Experts Eric Nébié and Christian Burri guided you through the complex world of drug development, introducing you to its lengthy pathway. A focus was put on drug discovery, clinical trials and the challenges of conducting clinical trials in Africa.

With the example of the drug Fexinidazole, we presented a successful case of drug development strategies with an important contribution of a national sleeping sickness control programme in Africa and a Product Development Partnership to combat Human African Trypanosomiasis. You discussed with your peers the feasibility of such an approach for drug development targeting diseases in the Global North.

You learned about the Product Development Partnership approach for drug development and the importance of collaboration, partnerships and the potential for mutual learning in drug development processes in the Global South and North. The Product Development Partnership model has proved advantageous in drug development cost mitigation, as the steadily increasing costs of drug development pose a great risk in the prioritisation of which drugs will be developed next.

Kelly Chibale established a ground-breaking centre for drug discovery in Cape Town, with the first investigational product being in the early stages of clinical development. The West African Network for Clinical Trials of Antimalarial Drugs (WANECAM) consortium has been a similar success by anticipating and addressing antimalarial resistance in Africa; this gives hope that malaria can be tackled with Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT). These two examples illustrate the important contribution of African leadership for malaria drug development.

Finally, you heard three experts from the pharmaceutical industry, Product Development Partnership and academia talk about their most successful and memorable drug development experiences in Africa.

There are three main questions you should be able to answer now:

  • What are the challenges of drug development in Africa?
  • What makes Product Development Partnership a role model for poverty-related and Neglected Diseases’ drug development?
  • Explain how mutual learning can be beneficial for the Global North and South in the field of drug development.

What has caught your interest the most in week 3? What are your most striking impressions? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section; we are looking forward to reading them!

Authors: Professor Christian Burri, Dr Eric Ipyn Nébié

© University of Basel
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