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1.  Assuring quality and performance of sustained and controlled release parenterals: Workshop report 
AAPS PharmSci  2002;4(2):13-23.
This is a summary report of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, the Food and Drug Administration and the United States Pharmacopoeia cosponsored workshop on “Assuring Quality and Performance of Sustained and Controlled Release Parenterals.” Experts from the pharmaceutical industry, the regulatory authorities and academia participated in this workshop to review, discuss and debate formulation, processing and manufacture of sustained and controlled release parenterals and identify critical process parameters and their control. Areas were identified where research is needed in order to understand the performance of these drug delivery systems and to assist in the development of appropriate testing procedures. Recommendations were made for future workshops, meetings and working groups in this area.
doi:10.1208/ps040205
PMCID: PMC2751292  PMID: 12141269
2.  Consolidating newborn screening efforts in the Asia Pacific region 
Journal of Community Genetics  2012;3(1):35-45.
Many of the countries in the Asia Pacific Region, particularly those with depressed and developing economies, are just initiating newborn screening programs for selected metabolic and other congenital disorders. The cultural, geographic, language, and economic differences that exist throughout the region add to the challenges of developing sustainable newborn screening systems. There are currently more developing programs than developed programs within the region. Newborn screening activities in the Asia Pacific Region are particularly important since births there account for approximately half of the world’s births. To date, there have been two workshops to facilitate formation of the Asia Pacific Newborn Screening Collaboratives. The 1st Workshop on Consolidating Newborn Screening Efforts in the Asia Pacific Region occurred in Cebu, Philippines, on March 30–April 1, 2008, as a satellite meeting to the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Human Genetics. The second workshop was held on June 4–5, 2010, in Manila, Philippines. Workshop participants included key policy-makers, service providers, researchers, and consumer advocates from 11 countries with 50% or less newborn screening coverage. Expert lectures included experiences in the United States and the Netherlands, international quality assurance activities and ongoing and potential research activities. Additional meeting support was provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Newborn Screening and Genetics Resource Center, the International Society for Neonatal Screening, and the March of Dimes. As part of both meeting activities, participants shared individual experiences in program implementation with formal updates of screening information for each country. This report reviews the activities and country reports from two Workshops on Consolidating Newborn Screening Efforts in the Asia Pacific Region with emphasis on the second workshop. It also updates the literature on screening activities and implementation/expansion challenges in the participating countries.
doi:10.1007/s12687-011-0076-7
PMCID: PMC3266966  PMID: 22271560
Newborn screening; Asia Pacific; Cebu Declaration; Manila Declaration
3.  Environmental air toxics: role in asthma occurrence? 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2002;110(Suppl 4):501-504.
The National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC) hosted its first scientific workshop in 1994 that focused on possible relationships between air toxics and asthma. From that meeting came recommendations for future research including a need for more complete individual personal exposure assessments so that determinations of personal exposures to pollutants could be made. In the spring of 2001, NUATRC held a second such workshop to review progress made in this area during the intervening 7 years. Peer-reviewed articles from the workshop are published in this issue of (italic)Environmental Health Perspectives Supplements(/italic). As in 1994, academic, government, and industry scientists participated. Dave Guinnup of the Environmental Protection Agency discussed the nature of air toxics, their definition, and the basis for federal regulation. George Leikauf from the University of Cincinnati reviewed the 1994 workshop and subsequent research in this field. Current research funded by NUATRC that is addressing individual personal exposure was presented by Clifford Weisel (Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey), Patrick Kinney (Columbia University) and Candis Claiborn (Washington State University). David Corry from Baylor College of Medicine highlighted new insights into asthma pathogenesis while Stephen Redd from the Centers for Disease Control presented an overview of asthma epidemiology as well as the societal costs of the disease. Mary White (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) discussed recent epidemiologic investigations by public health agencies into community concerns about asthma and hazardous air pollutants. David Peden (University of North Carolina) reviewed scientific studies into the links between asthma and air toxics as well as criteria air pollutants. In a session on occupational asthma, Lee Petsonk (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) discussed risk factors for work-related asthma, whereas Ralph Delfino (University of California, Irvine) addressed limitations of extrapolating from occupational asthma to asthma in the general population. These presentations were followed by panel discussions focusing on future research programs, both for NUATRC and similar research institutions. Recommendations for future research included improved assessments of personal exposure to air toxics as well as research focused on specific hazardous air pollutants. The latter recommendation was based on medical literature that suggests certain pollutants from the list of 188 air toxics are most likely to adversely affect respiratory health.
PMCID: PMC1241199  PMID: 12194880
4.  Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians' Prescribing: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000352.
Geoff Spurling and colleagues report findings of a systematic review looking at the relationship between exposure to promotional material from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of prescribing. They fail to find evidence of improvements in prescribing after exposure, and find some evidence of an association with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality.
Background
Pharmaceutical companies spent $57.5 billion on pharmaceutical promotion in the United States in 2004. The industry claims that promotion provides scientific and educational information to physicians. While some evidence indicates that promotion may adversely influence prescribing, physicians hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. The objective of this review is to examine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
Methods and Findings
We searched for studies of physicians with prescribing rights who were exposed to information from pharmaceutical companies (promotional or otherwise). Exposures included pharmaceutical sales representative visits, journal advertisements, attendance at pharmaceutical sponsored meetings, mailed information, prescribing software, and participation in sponsored clinical trials. The outcomes measured were quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing. We searched Medline (1966 to February 2008), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to February 2008), Embase (1997 to February 2008), Current Contents (2001 to 2008), and Central (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2007) using the search terms developed with an expert librarian. Additionally, we reviewed reference lists and contacted experts and pharmaceutical companies for information. Randomized and observational studies evaluating information from pharmaceutical companies and measures of physicians' prescribing were independently appraised for methodological quality by two authors. Studies were excluded where insufficient study information precluded appraisal. The full text of 255 articles was retrieved from electronic databases (7,185 studies) and other sources (138 studies). Articles were then excluded because they did not fulfil inclusion criteria (179) or quality appraisal criteria (18), leaving 58 included studies with 87 distinct analyses. Data were extracted independently by two authors and a narrative synthesis performed following the MOOSE guidelines. Of the set of studies examining prescribing quality outcomes, five found associations between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and lower quality prescribing, four did not detect an association, and one found associations with lower and higher quality prescribing. 38 included studies found associations between exposure and higher frequency of prescribing and 13 did not detect an association. Five included studies found evidence for association with higher costs, four found no association, and one found an association with lower costs. The narrative synthesis finding of variable results was supported by a meta-analysis of studies of prescribing frequency that found significant heterogeneity. The observational nature of most included studies is the main limitation of this review.
Conclusions
With rare exceptions, studies of exposure to information provided directly by pharmaceutical companies have found associations with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality or have not found significant associations. We did not find evidence of net improvements in prescribing, but the available literature does not exclude the possibility that prescribing may sometimes be improved. Still, we recommend that practitioners follow the precautionary principle and thus avoid exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
A prescription drug is a medication that can be supplied only with a written instruction (“prescription”) from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional. In 2009, 3.9 billion drug prescriptions were dispensed in the US alone and US pharmaceutical companies made US$300 billion in sales revenue. Every year, a large proportion of this revenue is spent on drug promotion. In 2004, for example, a quarter of US drug revenue was spent on pharmaceutical promotion. The pharmaceutical industry claims that drug promotion—visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives, advertisements in journals and prescribing software, sponsorship of meetings, mailed information—helps to inform and educate healthcare professionals about the risks and benefits of their products and thereby ensures that patients receive the best possible care. Physicians, however, hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. Some see it as a useful and convenient source of information. Others deny that they are influenced by pharmaceutical company promotion but claim that it influences other physicians. Meanwhile, several professional organizations have called for tighter control of promotional activities because of fears that pharmaceutical promotion might encourage physicians to prescribe inappropriate or needlessly expensive drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
But is there any evidence that pharmaceutical promotion adversely influences prescribing? Reviews of the research literature undertaken in 2000 and 2005 provide some evidence that drug promotion influences prescribing behavior. However, these reviews only partly assessed the relationship between information from pharmaceutical companies and prescribing costs and quality and are now out of date. In this study, therefore, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) to reexamine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for studies of licensed physicians who were exposed to promotional and other information from pharmaceutical companies. They identified 58 studies that included a measure of exposure to any type of information directly provided by pharmaceutical companies and a measure of physicians' prescribing behavior. They then undertook a “narrative synthesis,” a descriptive analysis of the data in these studies. Ten of the studies, they report, examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing quality (as judged, for example, by physician drug choices in response to clinical vignettes). All but one of these studies suggested that exposure to drug company information was associated with lower prescribing quality or no association was detected. In the 51 studies that examined the relationship between exposure to drug company information and prescribing frequency, exposure to information was associated with more frequent prescribing or no association was detected. Thus, for example, 17 out of 29 studies of the effect of pharmaceutical sales representatives' visits found an association between visits and increased prescribing; none found an association with less frequent prescribing. Finally, eight studies examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing costs. With one exception, these studies indicated that exposure to information was associated with a higher cost of prescribing or no association was detected. So, for example, one study found that physicians with low prescribing costs were more likely to have rarely or never read promotional mail or journal advertisements from pharmaceutical companies than physicians with high prescribing costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
With rare exceptions, these findings suggest that exposure to pharmaceutical company information is associated with either no effect on physicians' prescribing behavior or with adverse affects (reduced quality, increased frequency, or increased costs). Because most of the studies included in the review were observational studies—the physicians in the studies were not randomly selected to receive or not receive drug company information—it is not possible to conclude that exposure to information actually causes any changes in physician behavior. Furthermore, although these findings provide no evidence for any net improvement in prescribing after exposure to pharmaceutical company information, the researchers note that it would be wrong to conclude that improvements do not sometimes happen. The findings support the case for reforms to reduce negative influence to prescribing from pharmaceutical promotion.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000352.
Wikipedia has pages on prescription drugs and on pharmaceutical marketing (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The UK General Medical Council provides guidelines on good practice in prescribing medicines
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information on prescription drugs and on its Bad Ad Program
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
The Drug Promotion Database was developed by the World Health Organization Department of Essential Drugs & Medicines Policy and Health Action International Europe to address unethical and inappropriate drug promotion
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000352
PMCID: PMC2957394  PMID: 20976098
5.  Evolution of Antiretroviral Drug Costs in Brazil in the Context of Free and Universal Access to AIDS Treatment  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e305.
Background
Little is known about the long-term drug costs associated with treating AIDS in developing countries. Brazil's AIDS treatment program has been cited widely as the developing world's largest and most successful AIDS treatment program. The program guarantees free access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for all people living with HIV/AIDS in need of treatment. Brazil produces non-patented generic antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), procures many patented ARVs with negotiated price reductions, and recently issued a compulsory license to import one patented ARV. In this study, we investigate the drivers of recent ARV cost trends in Brazil through analysis of drug-specific prices and expenditures between 2001 and 2005.
Methods and Findings
We compared Brazil's ARV prices to those in other low- and middle-income countries. We analyzed trends in drug expenditures for HAART in Brazil from 2001 to 2005 on the basis of cost data disaggregated by each ARV purchased by the Brazilian program. We decomposed the overall changes in expenditures to compare the relative impacts of changes in drug prices and drug purchase quantities. We also estimated the excess costs attributable to the difference between prices for generics in Brazil and the lowest global prices for these drugs. Finally, we estimated the savings attributable to Brazil's reduced prices for patented drugs. Negotiated drug prices in Brazil are lowest for patented ARVs for which generic competition is emerging. In recent years, the prices for efavirenz and lopinavir–ritonavir (lopinavir/r) have been lower in Brazil than in other middle-income countries. In contrast, the price of tenofovir is US$200 higher per patient per year than that reported in other middle-income countries. Despite precipitous price declines for four patented ARVs, total Brazilian drug expenditures doubled, to reach US$414 million in 2005. We find that the major driver of cost increases was increased purchase quantities of six specific drugs: patented lopinavir/r, efavirenz, tenofovir, atazanavir, enfuvirtide, and a locally produced generic, fixed-dose combination of zidovudine and lamivudine (AZT/3TC). Because prices declined for many of the patented drugs that constitute the largest share of drug costs, nearly the entire increase in overall drug expenditures between 2001 and 2005 is attributable to increases in drug quantities. Had all drug quantities been held constant from 2001 until 2005 (or for those drugs entering treatment guidelines after 2001, held constant between the year of introduction and 2005), total costs would have increased by only an estimated US$7 million. We estimate that in the absence of price declines for patented drugs, Brazil would have spent a cumulative total of US$2 billion on drugs for HAART between 2001 and 2005, implying a savings of US$1.2 billion from price declines. Finally, in comparing Brazilian prices for locally produced generic ARVs to the lowest international prices meeting global pharmaceutical quality standards, we find that current prices for Brazil's locally produced generics are generally much higher than corresponding global prices, and note that these prices have risen in Brazil while declining globally. We estimate the excess costs of Brazil's locally produced generics totaled US$110 million from 2001 to 2005.
Conclusions
Despite Brazil's more costly generic ARVs, the net result of ARV price changes has been a cost savings of approximately US$1 billion since 2001. HAART costs have nevertheless risen steeply as Brazil has scaled up treatment. These trends may foreshadow future AIDS treatment cost trends in other developing countries as more people start treatment, AIDS patients live longer and move from first-line to second and third-line treatment, AIDS treatment becomes more complex, generic competition emerges, and newer patented drugs become available. The specific application of the Brazilian model to other countries will depend, however, on the strength of their health systems, intellectual property regulations, epidemiological profiles, AIDS treatment guidelines, and differing capacities to produce drugs locally.
Amy Nunn and colleagues analyze the cost of antiretroviral drugs in Brazil between 2001 and 2005 and discuss the implications for HIV treatment in other developing countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed 29 million people since the first case occurred in 1981 and an estimated 40 million people live with HIV/AIDS today. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys the immune system. Infected individuals are consequently very susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-positive individuals died within a few years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)—was developed. For people who could afford HAART (which holds HIV infections in check), AIDS became a chronic disease. People who start HAART must keep taking it or their illness will progress.
Unfortunately, few people in low- and middle-income countries could afford these expensive drugs. In 2001, ARV prices fell in developing countries as AIDS activists and developing country governments challenged pharmaceutical companies about ARV prices, pharmaceutical companies set tiered prices for the low- and middle-income countries and more generic (inexpensive copies of brand-named drugs) ARVs became available. In 2003, the lack of access to HIV/AIDS treatment was declared a global health emergency. Governments, international organizations, and funding bodies began to set targets and provide funds to increase access to HAART in developing countries. By 2007, over 2 million people in low- and middle-income countries had access to HAART, but another 5 million remain in urgent need of drugs for treatment.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 1995, many countries in the world signed the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement, which requires countries to acknowledge intellectual property rights for many products, including pharmaceuticals. In 1996, Brazil became the first developing country to commit to and implement policies to provide free and universal access to HAART. Since then, Brazil's successful AIDS treatment program has become a model for the developing world, and 180,000 Brazilians were receiving HAART at the end of 2006. However, as a WTO member that signed on to the TRIPS agreement, Brazil was required to recognize the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies' patented ARVs. As Brazil scaled up treatment in the late 1990s, the cost of treating AIDS patients rose quickly and the country took controversial public policy steps to reduce the cost of providing HAART to people living with HIV/AIDS. Brazil produces several non-patented ARVs locally, and since 2001 has challenged multinational pharmaceutical companies about the prices of patented ARVs. To induce price reductions for patented ARVs, Brazil has threatened to issue compulsory licenses (which under WTO terms allow countries facing a health emergency to produce patented drugs without consent of the company holding the patent). Brazil also recently issued a compulsory license for one ARV.
Although world leaders have set a target of universal access to HAART by 2010, little is known about the long-term costs of AIDS treatment in developing countries. In this study, the researchers have investigated how and why the costs of ARVs changed in Brazil between 2001 and 2005 and discuss the relevance of the Brazilian model for AIDS treatment for other resource-limited settings.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the prices for each ARV recommended in Brazil's therapeutic guidelines for adults and estimated the changes in purchase quantities for each between 2001 and 2005. These changes likely stem from the growing number of options in Brazil's treatment guidelines, the steadily rising number of patients commencing treatment, and patients' shifts to second- and third-line treatments when their HIV infection became resistant to first-line drugs or they developed side effects. The researchers report that the generic drugs produced in Brazil were generally more expensive than similar drugs made elsewhere, but Brazil's negotiated drug prices for many patented ARVs were lower than elsewhere. Overall, total annual drug expenditure on ARVs doubled between 2001 and 2005, reaching US$414 million in 2005. Because many drug prices fell sharply as a result of declining patented drug prices over the study period, this increase was mainly attributable to increases in drug quantities purchased. If these quantities had stayed constant, the total annual cost would have increased by only $7 million, to $211 million. Conversely, without the decrease in the price of patented drugs, Brazil would have spent $952 million annually by 2005. If Brazil had enjoyed the lowest global prices for generic medicines, the total costs per year in 2005 would have been $367 million, or nearly $50 million less than the costs Brazil actually realized.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings tease out the many factors—clinical, commercial, and political—that affected the total costs of the Brazilian AIDS treatment program between 2001 and 2005.
Brazil's ability to produce generic drugs facilitated Brazil's price negotiations for patented drugs. Although Brazil saved approximately US$1 billion over the study period as a result of declining prices for patented medicines, the cost of producing generic drugs locally has risen while the prices for generic drugs have fallen elsewhere. Brazil's recent decision to import a generic ARV using a compulsory license suggests that the Brazilian model for AIDS treatment continues to evolve.
Questions remain about the precise causes of year-to-year cost trends in Brazil because, for example, the researchers did not have full data on when patients switched from first-line to second- or third-line drugs. The observed steep rise in costs from 2004 to 2005 in particular warrants further analysis. In addition, the findings may not be generalizable to countries with different policies on HIV/AIDS treatment, different access to generic drugs, or different bargaining power with multinational drug companies. Nevertheless, the trends this study highlights provide important information about how AIDS treatment costs are likely to evolve in other developing countries as efforts are made to provide universal access to life-saving ARVs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040305.
Information from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
Information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on global HIV/AIDS topics (in English and Spanish)
HIV InSite, comprehensive and up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS from the University of California San Francisco
Information from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Brazil and on HIV/AIDS treatment and care, including universal access to ARVs
Progress towards universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, the latest report from the World Health Organization (available in several languages)
The National STD and AIDS Program of Brazil
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040305
PMCID: PMC2071936  PMID: 18001145
6.  Summary Workshop Report: Bioequivalence, Biopharmaceutics Classification System, and Beyond 
The AAPS Journal  2008;10(2):373-379.
The workshop “Bioequivalence, Biopharmaceutics Classification System, and Beyond” was held May 21–23, 2007 in North Bethesda, MD, USA. This workshop provided an opportunity for pharmaceutical scientists to discuss the FDA guidance on the Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS), bioequivalence of oral products, and related FDA initiatives such as the FDA Critical Path Initiative. The objective of this Summary Workshop Report is to document the main points from this workshop. Key highlights of the workshop were (a) the described granting of over a dozen BCS-based biowaivers by the FDA for Class I drugs whose formulations exhibit rapid dissolution, (b) continued scientific support for biowaivers for Class III compounds whose formulations exhibit very rapid dissolution, (c) scientific support for a number of permeability methodologies to assess BCS permeability class, (d) utilization of BCS in pharmaceutical research and development, and (e) scientific progress in in vitro dissolution methods to predict dosage form performance.
doi:10.1208/s12248-008-9040-9
PMCID: PMC2751390  PMID: 18679807
bioavailability; bioequivalence; biopharmaceutics classification system (BCS); oral absorption; permeability; regulatory science; solubility
7.  Eurocan plus report: feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities 
Summary
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project, called for by the European Parliament, was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities in Europe. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people, the largest Europe–wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research.
Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
It is essential to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community is evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form), leading to the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventive strategies. Translational research ranges from bench–to–bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project recommends the creation of a small, permanent and independent European Cancer Initiative (ECI). This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The ECI should assume responsibility for stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes, becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ organizations, European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), putting into practice solutions aimed at alleviating barriers to collaboration and coordination of cancer research activities in the European Union, and dealing with legal and regulatory issues. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this entity should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co–operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe and (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level.
The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control in Europe, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
Executive Summary
Cancer is one of the biggest public health crises facing Europe in the 21st century—one for which Europe is currently not prepared nor preparing itself. Cancer is a major cause of death in Europe with two million casualties and three million new cases diagnosed annually, and the situation is set to worsen as the population ages.
These facts led the European Parliament, through the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, to call for initiatives for better coordination of cancer research efforts in the European Union. The EUROCAN+PLUS Project was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people. In this respect, the Project became the largest Europe-wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research, implicating researchers, cancer centres and hospitals, administrators, healthcare professionals, funding agencies, industry, patients’ organizations and patients.
The Project first identified barriers impeding research and collaboration in research in Europe. Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain the formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
In addition, there is a shortage of leadership, a multiplicity of institutions each focusing on its own agenda, sub–optimal contact with industry, inadequate training, non–existent career paths, low personnel mobility in research especially among clinicians and inefficient funding—all conspiring against efficient collaboration in cancer care and research. European cancer research today does not have a functional translational research continuum, that is the process that exploits biomedical research innovations and converts them into prevention methods, diagnostic tools and therapies. Moreover, epidemiological research is not integrated with other types of cancer research, and the implementation of the European Directives on Clinical Trials 1 and on Personal Data Protection 2 has further slowed the innovation process in Europe. Furthermore, large inequalities in health and research exist between the EU–15 and the New Member States.
The picture is not entirely bleak, however, as the European cancer research scene presents several strengths, such as excellent basic research and clinical research and innovative etiological research that should be better exploited.
When considering recommendations, several priority dimensions had to be retained. It is essential that proposals include actions and recommendations that can benefit all Member States of the European Union and not just States with the elite centres. It is also essential to have a broader patient orientation to help provide the knowledge to establish cancer control possibilities when we exhaust what can be achieved by the implementation of current knowledge. It is vital that the actions proposed can contribute to the Lisbon Strategy to make Europe more innovative and competitive in (cancer) research.
The Project participants identified six areas for which consensus solutions should be implemented in order to obtain better coordination of cancer research activities. The required solutions are as follows. The proactive management of innovation, detection, facilitation of collaborations and maintenance of healthy competition within the European cancer research community.The establishment of an exchange portal of information for health professionals, patients and policy makers.The provision of guidance for translational and clinical research including the establishment of a translational research platform involving comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research centres.The coordination of calls and financial management of cancer research projects.The construction of a ‘one–stop shop’ as a contact interface between the industry, small and medium enterprises, scientists and other stakeholders.The support of greater involvement of healthcare professionals in translational research and multidisciplinary training.
In the course of the EUROCAN+PLUS consultative process, several key collaborative projects emerged between the various groups and institutes engaged in the consultation. There was a collaboration network established with Europe’s leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres; funding was awarded for a closer collaboration of Owners of Cancer Registries in Europe (EUROCOURSE); there was funding received from FP7 for an extensive network of leading Biological Resource Centres in Europe (BBMRI); a Working Group identified the special needs of Central, Eastern and South–eastern Europe and proposed a remedy (‘Warsaw Declaration’), and the concept of developing a one–stop shop for dealing with academia and industry including the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was discussed in detail.
Several other dimensions currently lacking were identified. There is an absolute necessity to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. It was a salutary lesson when it was recognized that all that is known about the quality of life of the cancer patient comes from the experience of a tiny proportion of cancer patients included in a few clinical trials. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community was evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form) and the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventative strategies in the European Union. Translational research ranges from bench-to-bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
Having taken note of the barriers and the solutions and having examined relevant examples of existing European organizations in the field, it was agreed during the General Assembly of 19 November 2007 that the EUROCAN+PLUS Project had to recommend the creation of a small, permanent and neutral ECI. This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The proposal is based on the successful model of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and its principal aims include providing a forum where researchers from all backgrounds and from all countries can meet with members of other specialities including patients, nurses, clinicians, funders and scientific administrators to develop priority programmes to make Europe more competitive in research and more focused on the cancer patient.
The ECI should assume responsibility for: stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes;becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ and organizations;European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises;putting into practice the aforementioned solutions aimed at alleviating barriers and coordinating cancer research activities in the EU;dealing with legal and regulatory issues.
Solutions implemented through the ECI will lead to better coordination and collaboration throughout Europe, more efficient use of resources, an increase in Europe’s attractiveness to the biomedical industry and better quality of cancer research and education of health professionals.
The Project considered that European legal instruments currently available were inadequate for addressing many aspects of the barriers identified and for the implementation of effective, lasting solutions. Therefore, the legal environment that could shelter an idea like the ECI remains to be defined but should be done so as a priority. In this context, the initiative of the European Commission for a new legal entity for research infrastructure might be a step in this direction. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass: (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co-operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe; (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level. Another topic deserving immediate attention is the creation of a European database on cancer research projects and cancer research facilities.
Despite enormous progress in cancer control in Europe during the past two decades, there was an increase of 300,000 in the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
doi:10.3332/ecancer.2011.84
PMCID: PMC3234055  PMID: 22274749
8.  An estimate of the need for environmental health academicians in the workforce. 
Public Health Reports  1990;105(4):410-414.
In July 1987, a workshop was held to evaluate the environmental health workforce. The workshop was sponsored by the Bureau of Health Professions. Health Resources and Services Administration of the Public Health Service. Participants were drawn from State and local agencies, Federal agencies, industry, and academia. Estimates of workforce needs were based on background information and informed consensus judgments of workshop participants. The final report of the workshop was published in January 1988. The authors synthesize some of the consensus judgements and review data from a position paper developed for the workshop. The supply, demand, and projected need for new academicians in environmental health on both graduate and undergraduate levels through 1992 are estimated. These estimates are based on the need for persons trained in the various environmental health subspecialties identified during the workshop. Outlined are the number and educational backgrounds of new faculty required. The types of new training programs that are required to meet the needs for environmental health specialists through 1992 are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1580075  PMID: 2116645
9.  Results of an Innovative Education, Training and Quality Assurance Program for Point-of-Care HbA1c Testing using the Bayer DCA 2000 in Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services 
The Clinical Biochemist Reviews  2003;24(4):123-130.
This study describes the development, implementation and management of a multi-faceted quality assurance program called Quality Assurance for Aboriginal Medical Services (QAAMS) to support point-of-care HbA1c testing on the Bayer DCA 2000 in Aboriginal people with diabetes from 45 Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
The quality assurance program comprised four elements: production of culturally appropriate education resources, formal training for Aboriginal Health Workers conducting HbA1c testing, an external quality assurance program and on-going quality management support services including a help hotline and an annual workshop. Aboriginal Health Workers were required to test two quality assurance (QAAMS) samples in a blind sense every month since July 1999. Samples were linearly related and comprised six paired levels of HbA1c. The short and long term performance of each service’s DCA 2000 was reviewed monthly and at the end of each six month testing cycle.
The average participation rate over 7 six-monthly QAAMS testing cycles was 88%. 84% of 3100 quality assurance tests performed were within preset limits of acceptability. The median precision (CV%) for HbA1c testing has averaged 3.8% across the past 5 cycles (range 3.4 to 4.0%) and is continuing to improve. The introduction of a medical rebate for HbA1c testing has ensured the program’s sustainability.
Through continuing education and training, Aboriginal Health Workers have achieved consistent analytical performance for HbA1c testing on the DCA 2000, equivalent to that of laboratory scientists using the same instrument. This unique quality assurance model can be readily adapted to other Indigenous health settings and other point-of-care tests and instruments.
PMCID: PMC1853353  PMID: 18568052
10.  Consensus workshop on methods to evaluate developmental immunotoxicity. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2003;111(4):579-583.
A workshop cosponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was convened in Washington, DC, on 17-18 October 2001 with the goal of developing a consensus document on the most appropriate experimental approaches and assays available to assess developmental immunotoxicity. The work group was composed of scientists from academia, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and federal agencies with expertise in developmental immunology, developmental toxicology, immunotoxicology, and risk evaluation. This consensus document presents an overview of the major summations made by the work group. A summary of early work in the field is provided, which includes potential immunotoxic agents, followed by brief discussions of our current understanding of developmental immunology. This report concludes with the work group's consensus of the most appropriate experimental design and tests to screen for potential developmental immunotoxic agents in experimental models, including potential limitations and data gaps.
PMCID: PMC1241448  PMID: 12676619
11.  Haemopoietic stem cell transplantation in the treatment of severe autoimmune diseases 2000 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(7):702-707.
An international meeting took place in Basel, Switzerland from 5 to 7 October 2000 involving 180 participants from 30 countries, with the aim of assessing the existing data on autologous haemopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in the treatment of severe autoimmune disease, and to decide on future trial planning.
  Data on 390 patients were presented: 260 from the EBMT/EULAR Basel European/Asian database, 87 from North America (55 from the IBMTR), 39 from Australia, and 4 others. The major disease categories and number of patients receiving transplant were: multiple sclerosis (MS) 127, systemic sclerosis (SSc) 72, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 70, juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) 36, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) 34, dermatomyositis/polymyositis (DM/PM) 5, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) 7. Single or several cases of other autoimmune diseases were reported.
  Clinically significant responses were seen in two thirds of all the cases and in all disease categories, with a more accentuated trend towards relapse in JIA and RA.
Treatment was associated with a significant morbidity and mortality. In the EULAR/EBMT database (71 centres in 22 countries), a mobilisation associated mortality of 1.5% and an overall procedure related mortality (actuarially adjusted at 12 months) of 9% (confidence interval 6 to 12%) were found, with significant variation between diseases. The North American data showed similar results. Higher mortalities were seen in SSc and systemic JIA, with only one death reported in RA.
  After presentation of the data and workshop discussion a consensus was reached on several aspects: prospective randomised phase III trials are now appropriate in SSc, MS, and RA. A protocol is ready for SSc (ASTIS Trial), concepts are clear for MS and RA. Further phase I and II data are required in SLE, JIA, and vasculitis. The need for continuing collection of all cases after mobilisation by the standardised EBMT and IBMTR data forms was emphasised.


doi:10.1136/ard.60.7.702
PMCID: PMC1753737  PMID: 11406528
12.  Emerging concepts in biomarker discovery; The US-Japan workshop on immunological molecular markers in oncology 
Supported by the Office of International Affairs, National Cancer Institute (NCI), the "US-Japan Workshop on Immunological Biomarkers in Oncology" was held in March 2009. The workshop was related to a task force launched by the International Society for the Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to identify strategies for biomarker discovery and validation in the field of biotherapy. The effort will culminate on October 28th 2009 in the "iSBTc-FDA-NCI Workshop on Prognostic and Predictive Immunologic Biomarkers in Cancer", which will be held in Washington DC in association with the Annual Meeting. The purposes of the US-Japan workshop were a) to discuss novel approaches to enhance the discovery of predictive and/or prognostic markers in cancer immunotherapy; b) to define the state of the science in biomarker discovery and validation. The participation of Japanese and US scientists provided the opportunity to identify shared or discordant themes across the distinct immune genetic background and the diverse prevalence of disease between the two Nations.
Converging concepts were identified: enhanced knowledge of interferon-related pathways was found to be central to the understanding of immune-mediated tissue-specific destruction (TSD) of which tumor rejection is a representative facet. Although the expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) likely mediates the inflammatory process leading to tumor rejection, it is insufficient by itself and the associated mechanisms need to be identified. It is likely that adaptive immune responses play a broader role in tumor rejection than those strictly related to their antigen-specificity; likely, their primary role is to trigger an acute and tissue-specific inflammatory response at the tumor site that leads to rejection upon recruitment of additional innate and adaptive immune mechanisms.
Other candidate systemic and/or tissue-specific biomarkers were recognized that might be added to the list of known entities applicable in immunotherapy trials. The need for a systematic approach to biomarker discovery that takes advantage of powerful high-throughput technologies was recognized; it was clear from the current state of the science that immunotherapy is still in a discovery phase and only a few of the current biomarkers warrant extensive validation. It was, finally, clear that, while current technologies have almost limitless potential, inadequate study design, limited standardization and cross-validation among laboratories and suboptimal comparability of data remain major road blocks. The institution of an interactive consortium for high throughput molecular monitoring of clinical trials with voluntary participation might provide cost-effective solutions.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-7-45
PMCID: PMC2724494  PMID: 19534815
13.  Do procedural skills workshops during family practice residency work? 
Canadian Family Physician  2010;56(8):e296-e301.
ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVE
To determine if participation in a procedural skills workshop during family practice residency affects future use of these skills in postgraduate clinical practice.
DESIGN
Survey involving self-assessment of procedural skills experience and competence.
SETTING
British Columbia.
PARTICIPANTS
Former University of British Columbia family practice residents who trained in Vancouver, BC, including residents who participated in a procedural skills workshop in 2001 or 2003 and residents graduating in 2000 and 2002 who did not participate in the procedural skills workshop.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Self-assessed experience and competence in the 6 office-based procedural skills that were taught during the procedural skills workshops in 2001 and 2003.
RESULTS
Participation in a procedural skills workshop had no positive effect on future use of these skills in clinical practice. Participation in the workshop was associated with less reported experience (P = .091) in injection of lateral epicondylitis. As with previous Canadian studies, more women than men reported experience and competence in gynecologic procedures. More women than men reported experience (P = .001) and competence (P = .004) in intrauterine device insertion and experience (P = .091) in endometrial aspiration biopsy. More men than women reported competence (P = .052) in injection of trochanteric bursae. A third year of emergency training was correlated with an increase in reported experience (P = .021) in shoulder injection.
CONCLUSION
Participation in a procedural skills workshop during family practice residency did not produce a significant increase in the performance of these skills on the part of participants once they were in clinical practice. The benefit of a skills workshop might be lost when there is no opportunity to practise and perfect these skills. Sex bias in the case of some procedures might represent a needs-based acquisition of skills on the part of practising physicians. Short procedural skills workshops might be better suited to graduated physicians with more clinical experience.
PMCID: PMC2920796  PMID: 20705868
14.  GenMed 010: a one day workshop on generic medicines 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2011;4(3):133-135.
This report outlines the content of a one-day workshop on Generic Medicines that was held at KIST Medical College, Lalitpur, Nepal on 13th December 2010, which was attended by 32 delegates from different institutions in Nepal, including pharmacists, pharmacologists and medical doctors. Right medicine, right patient, right dose, right frequency and duration, right information and right monitoring are conditions to be fulfilled for the rational use of medicine (RUM). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines generic medicine as ‘a pharmaceutical product, usually intended to be interchangeable with the innovator product, marketed after the expiry of patent or other exclusivity rights’. Economic factors, supportive legislation and regulation, public and professional acceptance and quality assurance are key enabling factors promoting use of generics. Increased patent protection for medicines and removing process patents is a key feature of new trade agreements and newer medicines for diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and infectious diseases are likely to be more expensive. The Medicine and Therapeutics Committee (MTC) can play a key role in promoting generic medicine use in institutions.
Nepal being among the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) need not provide patent protection for medicines until 31st December 2015. Only a few ‘true’ generics are available in Nepal and there is huge cost variation in the price of different branded generics. Clinicians have concerns about the quality of medicines in general, substitution of poor quality brands by pharmacists and about therapeutic substitution. Generics have to meet the same regulatory requirements and be bioequivalent to reference preparations assuring their quality.
doi:10.4066/AMJ.2011.587
PMCID: PMC3562960  PMID: 23390461
Generic medicines; Nepal; Patents; Rational use of medicines
15.  A systematic approach to biomarker discovery; Preamble to "the iSBTc-FDA taskforce on immunotherapy biomarkers" 
The International Society for the Biological Therapy of Cancer (iSBTc) has initiated in collaboration with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a programmatic look at innovative avenues for the identification of relevant parameters to assist clinical and basic scientists who study the natural course of host/tumor interactions or their response to immune manipulation. The task force has two primary goals: 1) identify best practices of standardized and validated immune monitoring procedures and assays to promote inter-trial comparisons and 2) develop strategies for the identification of novel biomarkers that may enhance our understating of principles governing human cancer immune biology and, consequently, implement their clinical application. Two working groups were created that will report the developed best practices at an NCI/FDA/iSBTc sponsored workshop tied to the annual meeting of the iSBTc to be held in Washington DC in the Fall of 2009. This foreword provides an overview of the task force and invites feedback from readers that might be incorporated in the discussions and in the final document.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-6-81
PMCID: PMC2630944  PMID: 19105846
16.  Conflict of Interest Reporting by Authors Involved in Promotion of Off-Label Drug Use: An Analysis of Journal Disclosures 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001280.
Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues investigate conflict of interest disclosures in articles authored by physicians and scientists identified in whistleblower complaints alleging illegal off-label marketing by pharmaceutical companies.
Background
Litigation documents reveal that pharmaceutical companies have paid physicians to promote off-label uses of their products through a number of different avenues. It is unknown whether physicians and scientists who have such conflicts of interest adequately disclose such relationships in the scientific publications they author.
Methods and Findings
We collected whistleblower complaints alleging illegal off-label marketing from the US Department of Justice and other publicly available sources (date range: 1996–2010). We identified physicians and scientists described in the complaints as having financial relationships with defendant manufacturers, then searched Medline for articles they authored in the subsequent three years. We assessed disclosures made in articles related to the off-label use in question, determined the frequency of adequate disclosure statements, and analyzed characteristics of the authors (specialty, author position) and articles (type, connection to off-label use, journal impact factor, citation count/year). We identified 39 conflicted individuals in whistleblower complaints. They published 404 articles related to the drugs at issue in the whistleblower complaints, only 62 (15%) of which contained an adequate disclosure statement. Most articles had no disclosure (43%) or did not mention the pharmaceutical company (40%). Adequate disclosure rates varied significantly by article type, with commentaries less likely to have adequate disclosure compared to articles reporting original studies or trials (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.10, 95%CI = 0.02–0.67, p = 0.02). Over half of the authors (22/39, 56%) made no adequate disclosures in their articles. However, four of six authors with ≥25 articles disclosed in about one-third of articles (range: 10/36–8/25 [28%–32%]).
Conclusions
One in seven authors identified in whistleblower complaints as involved in off-label marketing activities adequately disclosed their conflict of interest in subsequent journal publications. This is a much lower rate of adequate disclosure than has been identified in previous studies. The non-disclosure patterns suggest shortcomings with authors and the rigor of journal practices.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editor's Summary
Background
Off-label use of pharmaceuticals is the practice of prescribing a drug for a condition or age group, or in a dose or form of administration, that has not been specifically approved by a formal regulatory body, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Off-label prescribing is common all over the world. In the US, although it is legal for doctors to prescribe drugs off-label and discuss such clinical uses with colleagues, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to directly promote off-label uses of any of their products. Revenue from off-label uses can be lucrative for drug companies and even surpass the income from approved uses. Therefore, many pharmaceutical companies have paid physicians and scientists to promote off-label use of their products as part of their marketing programs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, a number of pharmaceutical companies have been investigated in the US for illegal marketing programs that promote off-label uses of their products and have had to pay billions of dollars in court settlements. As part of these investigations, doctors and scientists were identified who were paid by the companies to deliver lectures and conduct other activities to support off-label uses. When the same physicians and scientists also wrote articles about these drugs for medical journals, their financial relationships would have constituted clear conflicts of interest that should have been declared alongside the journal articles. So, in this study, the researchers identified such authors, examined their publications, and assessed the adequacy of conflict of interest disclosures made in these publications.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used disclosed information from the US Department of Justice, media reports, and data from a non-governmental organization that tracks federal fraud actions, to find whistleblower complaints alleging illegal off-label promotion. Then they identified the doctors and scientists described in the complaints as having financial relationships with the defendant drug companies and searched Medline for articles authored by these experts in the subsequent three years. Using a four step approach, the researchers assessed the adequacy of conflict of interest disclosures made in articles relating to the off-label uses in question.
Using these methods, the researchers examined 26 complaints alleging illegal off-label promotion and identified the 91 doctors and scientists recorded as being involved in this practice. The researchers found 39 (43%) of these 91 experts had authored 404 related publications. In the complaints, these 39 experts were alleged to have engaged in 42 relationships with the relevant drug company: the most common activity was acting as a paid speaker (n = 26, 62%) but also writing reviews or articles on behalf of the company (n = 7), acting as consultants or advisory board members (n = 3), and receiving gifts/honoraria (n = 3), research support funds (n = 2), and educational support funds (n = 1). However, the researchers found that only 62 (15%) of the 404 related articles had adequate disclosures—43% (148) had no disclosure at all, 4% had statements denying any conflicts of interest, 40% had disclosures that did not mention the drug manufacturer, and 13% had disclosures that mentioned the manufacturer but inadequately conveyed the nature of the relationship between author and drug manufacturer reported in the complaint. The researchers also found that adequate disclosure rates varied significantly by article type, with commentaries significantly less likely to have adequate disclosure compared to articles reporting studies or trials.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show the substantial deficiencies in the adequacy of conflict-of-interest disclosures made by authors who had been paid by pharmaceutical manufacturers as part of off-label marketing activities: only one in seven authors fully disclosed their conflict of interest in their published articles. This low figure is troubling and suggests that approaches to controlling the effects of conflicts of interest that rely on author candidness are inadequate and furthermore, journal practices are not robust enough and need to be improved. In the meantime, readers have no option but to interpret conflict of interest disclosures, particularly in relation to off-label uses, with caution.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001280.
The US FDA provides a guide on the use of off-label drugs
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers a patient guide to off-label drugs
ProPublica offers a web-based tool to identify physicians who have financial relationships with certain pharmaceutical companies
Wikipedia has a good description of off-label drug use (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The Institute for Medicine as a Profession maintains a list of policies regulating physicians' financial relationships that are in place at US-based academic medical centers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001280
PMCID: PMC3413710  PMID: 22899894
17.  West Nile Virus workshop: scientific considerations for tissue donors 
Cell and Tissue Banking  2011;13(3):499-511.
This report contains selected excerpts, presented as a summary, from a public workshop sponsored by the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) held to discuss West Nile Virus (WNV) and scientific considerations for tissue donors. The daylong workshop was held 9 July 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Tyson’s Corner in McLean, Virginia, United States (U.S.). The workshop was designed to determine and discuss scientific information that is known, and what is not known, regarding WNV infection and transmission. The goal is to determine how to fill gaps in knowledge of WNV and tissue donation and transplantation by pursuing relevant scientific studies. This information should ultimately support decisions leading to appropriate tissue donor screening and testing considerations. Discussion topics were related to identifying these gaps and determining possible solutions. Workshop participants included subject-matter experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, AATB-accredited tissue banks including reproductive tissue banks, accredited eye banks of the Eye Bank Association of America, testing laboratories, and infectious disease and organ transplantation professionals. After all presentations concluded, a panel addressed this question: “What are the scientific considerations for tissue donors and what research could be performed to address those considerations?” The slide presentations from the workshop are available at: http://www.aatb.org/2010-West-Nile-Virus-Workshop-Presentations.
doi:10.1007/s10561-011-9282-0
PMCID: PMC3432212  PMID: 22134724
West Nile Virus; Tissue donor; Allograft; Research; Risk; Transmission
18.  Cotinine analytical workshop report: consideration of analytical methods for determining cotinine in human body fluids as a measure of passive exposure to tobacco smoke. 
A two-day technical workshop was convened November 10-11, 1986, to discuss analytical approaches for determining trace amounts of cotinine in human body fluids resulting from passive exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The workshop, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control, was attended by scientists with expertise in cotinine analytical methodology and/or conduct of human monitoring studies related to ETS. The workshop format included technical presentations, separate panel discussions on chromatography and immunoassay analytical approaches, and group discussions related to the quality assurance/quality control aspects of future monitoring programs. This report presents a consensus of opinion on general issues before the workshop panel participants and also a detailed comparison of several analytical approaches being used by the various represented laboratories. The salient features of the chromatography and immunoassay analytical methods are discussed separately.
PMCID: PMC1567638  PMID: 2190812
19.  Summary Workshop Report: Facilitating Oral Product Development and Reducing Regulatory Burden Through Novel Approaches to Assess Bioavailability/Bioequivalence 
The AAPS Journal  2012;14(3):627-638.
This summary workshop report highlights presentations and over-arching themes from an October 2011 workshop. Discussions focused on best practices in the application of biopharmaceutics in oral drug product development and evolving bioequivalence approaches. Best practices leverage biopharmaceutic data and other drug, formulation, and patient/disease data to identify drug development challenges in yielding a successfully performing product. Quality by design and product developability paradigms were discussed. Development tools include early development strategies to identify critical absorption factors and oral absorption modeling. An ongoing theme was the desire to comprehensively and systematically assess risk of product failure via the quality target product profile and root cause and risk analysis. However, a parallel need is reduced timelines and fewer resources. Several presentations discussed applying Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) and in vitro–in vivo correlations in development and in post-development and discussed both resource savings and best scientific practices. The workshop also focused on evolving bioequivalence approaches, with emphasis on highly variable products (HVDP), as well as specialized modified-release products. In USA, two bioequivalence approaches for HVDP are the reference-scaled average bioequivalence approach and the two-stage group-sequential design. An adaptive sequential design approach is also acceptable in Canada. In European Union, two approaches for HVDP are a two-stage design and an approach to widen Cmax acceptance limits. For some specialized modified-release products, FDA now requests partial area under the curve. Rationale and limitations of such metrics were discussed (e.g., zolpidem and methylphenidate). A common theme was the benefit of the scientific and regulatory community developing, validating, and harmonizing newer bioequivalence methodologies (e.g., BCS-based waivers and HVDP trial designs).
doi:10.1208/s12248-012-9376-z
PMCID: PMC3385831  PMID: 22684402
20.  Small Bowel Transplant 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Objective
The Medical Advisory Secretariat undertook a review of the evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of small bowel transplant in the treatment of intestinal failure.
Small Bowel Transplantation
Intestinal failure is the loss of absorptive capacity of the small intestine that results in an inability to meet the nutrient and fluid requirements of the body via the enteral route. Patients with intestinal failure usually receive nutrients intravenously, a procedure known as parenteral nutrition. However, long-term parenteral nutrition is associated with complications including liver failure and loss of venous access due to recurrent infections.
Small bowel transplant is the transplantation of a cadaveric intestinal allograft for the purpose of restoring intestinal function in patients with irreversible intestinal failure. The transplant may involve the small intestine alone (isolated small bowel ISB), the small intestine and the liver (SB-L) when there is irreversible liver failure, or multiple organs including the small bowel (multivisceral MV or cluster). Although living related donor transplant is being investigated at a limited number of centres, cadaveric donors have been used in most small bowel transplants.
The actual transplant procedure takes approximately 12-18 hours. After intestinal transplant, the patient is generally placed on prophylactic antibiotic medication and immunosuppressive regimen that, in the majority of cases, would include tacrolimus, corticosteroids and an induction agent. Close monitoring for infection and rejection are essential for early treatment.
Medical Advisory Secretariat Review
The Medical Advisory Secretariat undertook a review of 35 reports from 9 case series and 1 international registry. Sample size of the individual studies ranged from 9 to 155.
As of May 2001, 651 patients had received small bowel transplant procedures worldwide. According to information from the Canadian Organ Replacement Register, a total of 27 small bowel transplants were performed in Canada from 1988 to 2002.
Patient Outcomes
The experience in small bowel transplant is still limited. International data showed that during the last decade, patient survival and graft survival rates from SBT have improved, mainly because of improved immunosuppression therapy and earlier detection and treatment of infection and rejection. The Intestinal Transplant Registry reported 1-year actuarial patient survival rates of 69% for isolated small bowel transplant, 66% for small bowel-liver transplant, and 63% for multivisceral transplant, and a graft survival rate of 55% for ISB and 63% for SB-L and MV. The range of 1-year patient survival rates reported ranged from 33%-87%. Reported 1-year graft survival rates ranged from 46-71%.
Regression analysis performed by the International Transplant Registry in 1997 indicated that centres that have performed at least 10 small bowel transplants had better patient and graft survival rates than centres that performed less than 10 transplants. However, analysis of the data up to May 2001 suggests that the critical mass of 10 transplants no longer holds true for transplants after 1995, and that good results can be achieved at any multiorgan transplant program with moderate patient volumes.
The largest Centre reported an overall 1-year patient and graft survival rate of 72% and 64% respectively, and 5-year patient and graft survival of 48% and 40% respectively. The overall 1-year patient survival rate reported for Ontario pediatric small bowel transplants was 61% with the highest survival rate of 83% for ISB.
The majority (70% or higher) of surviving small bowel transplant recipients was able to wean from parenteral nutrition and meet all caloric needs enterally. Some may need enteral or parenteral supplementation during periods of illness. Growth and weight gain in children after ISB were reported by two studies while two other studies reported a decrease in growth velocity with no catch-up growth.
The quality of life after SBT was reported to be comparable to that of patients on home enteral nutrition. A study found that while the parents of pediatric SBT recipients reported significant limitations in the physical and psychological well being of the children compared with normal school children, the pediatric SBT recipients themselves reported a quality of life similar to other school children.
Survival was found to be better in transplants performed since 1991. Patient survival was associated with the type of organ transplanted with better survival in isolated small bowel recipients.
Adverse Events
Despite improvement in patient and graft survival rates, small bowel transplant is still associated with significant mortality and morbidity.
Infection with subsequent sepsis is the leading cause of death (51.3%). Bacterial, fungal and viral infections have all been reported. The most common viral infections are cytomegalorvirus (18-40%) and Epstein-Barr virus. The latter often led to ß-cell post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease.
Graft rejection is the second leading cause of death after SBT (10.4%) and is responsible for 57% of graft removal. Acute rejection rates ranged from 51% to 83% in the major programs. Most of the acute rejection episodes were mild and responded to steroids and OKT3. Antilymphocyte therapy was needed in up to 27% of patients. Isolated small bowel allograft and positive lymphocytotoxic cross-match were found to be risk factors for acute rejection.
Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease occurred in 21% of SBT recipients and accounted for 7% of post-transplant mortality. The frequency was higher in pediatric recipients (31%) and in adults receiving composite visceral allografts (25%). The allograft itself is often involved in post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease. The reported incidence of host versus graft disease varied widely among centers (0% - 14%).
Surgical complications were reported to occur in 85% of SB-L transplants and 25% of ISB transplants. Reoperations were required in 45% - 66% of patients in a large series and the most common reason for reoperation was intra-abdominal abscess.
The median cost of intestinal transplant in the US was reported to be approximately $275,000US (approximately CDN$429,000) per case. A US study concluded that based on the US cost of home parenteral nutrition, small bowel transplant could be cost-effective by the second year after the transplant.
Conclusion
There is evidence that small bowel transplant can prolong the life of some patients with irreversible intestinal failure who can no longer continue to be managed by parenteral nutrition therapy. Both patient survival and graft survival rates have improved with time. However, small bowel transplant is still associated with significant mortality and morbidity. The outcomes are inferior to those of total parenteral nutrition. Evidence suggests that this procedure should only be used when total parenteral nutrition is no longer feasible.
PMCID: PMC3387750  PMID: 23074441
21.  MED16/383: How to Feed a System for Internet-based Continuing Medical Education for General Practitioners with Relevant Contents? 
Introduction
Traditional Continuing Medical Education (CME) often means costly and inefficient learning for General Practitioners (GPs). The PostDoc project funded by the European Union aims at setting up and testing a model for a WWW-based learning environment that efficiently provides GPs with information, knowledge and skills. Results of the German project partners in setting up models and mechanisms to enable GPs to also work as content providers in their own information service are reported.
Methods
Content and functionality of the Web-based learning environment is developed by participatory design and prototyping in collaboration of Psychiatrists, computer scientists and a volunteer user group of 10 GPs. Several questionnaires and user meetings have been performed. Standard WWW technology is used. An evaluation with 30-50 GPs will be started in July 1999.
Results
The German service includes a multimedia training application for diagnosing psychiatric disorders, selected existing WWW information sources, indexes, and communication facilities. A calendar of CME events, medical news, and information on colleagues and healthcare regions is generated from databases that can be edited by WWW-based tools. The 10 GPs, practising 19 years on average, are mostly inexperienced in internet usage. They are willing to work with the service 37 minutes per week (15-60 min/w). 80% prefer a participatory-based design of the service. 50% desire a self-organized service. All GPs highly value the integrated information and learning environment but most tend to reject communication, collaboration or active editorial work. We set up a model that enables a GP to control his own level of participation in the service, avoiding bureaucratic impediments. GPs have one of these three roles: Unregistered visitors merely obtain public information, have restricted access and may send email feedback or requests. Registered users have a password that lets them access the whole functionality of the service. Editors have a password that also permits them to enter data directly in the databases. Each GP of the user group worked with the prototype a few hours in total. None of them participates as an editor in the service. Despite hands-on workshops and positive attitudes, it does not seem trivial to motivate GPs to become active in the WWW-based learning and information service.
Discussion
Traditionally oriented GPs in our user group had difficulties in expressing their requirements to a Web-based CME environment. Co-operation was not as easy as expected before. The main reasons for that are massive time constraints, a lack of experience with the internet, GPs' individualism, and the habit to use traditional ways of CME. Active content provision by GPs seems only realistic if it is easy and can be done quickly. GPs should control the quality of the service's contents. During the Congress we will present detailed evaluations from 30-50 GPs working with the user roles.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1.suppl1.e59
PMCID: PMC1761754
Internet; Continuing Medical Education; Computer Literacy; Multimedia; General Practitioner
22.  Immunotoxicogenomics: The potential of genomics technology in the immunotoxicity risk assessment process 
Evaluation of xenobiotic-induced changes in gene expression as a method to identify and classify potential toxicants is being pursued by industry and regulatory agencies worldwide. A workshop was held at the Research Triangle Park campus of the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the current state of the science of “immunotoxicogenomics”, and to explore the potential role of genomics techniques for immunotoxicity testing. The genesis of the workshop was the current lack of widely accepted triggering criteria for Tier 1 immunotoxicity testing in the context of routine toxicity testing data, the realization that traditional screening methods would require an inordinate number of animals and are inadequate to handle the number of chemicals that may need to be screened (e.g., high production volume compounds) and the absence of an organized effort to address the state of the science of toxicogenomics in the identification of immunotoxic compounds. The major focus of the meeting was on the theoretical and practical utility of genomics techniques to 1) replace or supplement current immunotoxicity screening procedures, 2) provide insight into potential modes or mechanisms of action, and 3) provide data suitable for immunotoxicity hazard identification or risk assessment. The latter goal is of considerable interest to a variety of stakeholders as a means to reduce animal use and to decrease the cost of conducting and interpreting standard toxicity tests. A number of data gaps were identified that included a lack of dose response and kinetic data for known immunotoxic compounds and a general lack of data correlating genomic alterations to functional changes observed in vivo. Participants concluded that a genomics approach to screen chemicals for immunotoxic potential or to generate data useful to risk assessors holds promise, but that routine use of these methods is years in the future. However, recent progress in molecular immunology has made mode and mechanism of action studies much more practical. Furthermore, a variety of published immunotoxicity studies suggest that microarray analysis is already a practical means to explore pathway-level changes that lead to altered immune function. To help move the science of immunotoxicogenomics forward, a partnership of industry, academia and government was suggested to address data gaps, validation, quality assurance, and protocol development.
doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfl074
PMCID: PMC1847338  PMID: 16882865
23.  Accelerated in vitro release testing methods for extended release parenteral dosage forms 
Objectives
This review highlights current methods and strategies for accelerated in vitro drug release testing of extended release parenteral dosage forms such as polymeric microparticulate systems, lipid microparticulate systems, in situ depot-forming systems, and implants.
Key findings
Extended release parenteral dosage forms are typically designed to maintain the effective drug concentration over periods of weeks, months or even years. Consequently, “real-time” in vitro release tests for these dosage forms are often run over a long time period. Accelerated in vitro release methods can provide rapid evaluation and therefore are desirable for quality control purposes. To this end, different accelerated in vitro release methods using United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) apparatus have been developed. Different mechanisms of accelerating drug release from extended release parenteral dosage forms, along with the accelerated in vitro release testing methods currently employed are discussed.
Conclusions
Accelerated in vitro release testing methods with good discriminatory ability are critical for quality control of extended release parenteral products. Methods that can be used in the development of in vitro-in vivo correlation (IVIVC) are desirable, however for complex parenteral products this may not always be achievable.
doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.2012.01482.x
PMCID: PMC3408959  PMID: 22686344
accelerated in vitro release testing; extended release parenteral dosage forms; USP apparatus; quality control
24.  Challenges and Opportunities in Establishing Scientific and Regulatory Standards for Assuring Therapeutic Equivalence of Modified Release Products: Workshop Summary Report 
The AAPS Journal  2010;12(3):371-377.
Modified release products are complex dosage forms designed to release drug in a controlled manner to achieve desired efficacy and safety. Inappropriate control of drug release from such products may result in reduced efficacy or increased toxicity. This workshop provided an opportunity for pharmaceutical scientists from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies to discuss current industry practices and regulatory expectations for demonstrating pharmaceutical equivalence and bioequivalence of MR products, further facilitating the establishment of regulatory standards for ensuring therapeutic equivalence of these products.
doi:10.1208/s12248-010-9201-5
PMCID: PMC2895434  PMID: 20440588
bioequivalence; interchangeability; modified release; pharmaceutical equivalence; therapeutic equivalence
25.  Pluripotent Stem Cells in Translation: A Food and Drug Administration-National Institutes of Health Collaboration 
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the stem cell research community have collaborated on a series of workshops that address moving pluripotent stem cell therapies into the clinic. The first two workshops in the series focused on preclinical science, and a third, future workshop will focus on clinical trials. This summary addresses major points from both of the recent preclinically focused meetings.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and the stem cell research community have collaborated on a series of workshops that address moving pluripotent stem cell therapies into the clinic. The first two workshops in the series focused on preclinical science, and a third, future workshop will focus on clinical trials. This summary addresses major points from both of the recent preclinically focused meetings. When entering into a therapeutics developmental program based on pluripotent cells, investigators must make decisions at the very early stages that will have major ramifications during later phases of development. Presentations and discussions from both invited participants and FDA staff described the need to characterize and document the quality, variability, and suitability of the cells and commercial reagents used at every translational stage. This requires consideration of future regulatory requirements, ranging from donor eligibility of the original source material to the late-stage manufacturing protocols. Federal, industrial, and academic participants agreed that planning backward is the best way to anticipate what evidence will be needed to justify human testing of novel therapeutics and to eliminate wasted efforts.
doi:10.5966/sctm.2013-0042
PMCID: PMC3697815  PMID: 23757505
Pluripotent stem cells; Stem cells; Clinical translation; Clinical trials

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