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1.  Nesting doctoral students in collaborative North–South partnerships for health systems research 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24070.
Background
The European Union (EU) supports North–South Partnerships and collaborative research projects through its Framework Programmes and Horizon 2020. There is limited research on how such projects can be harnessed to provide a structured platform for doctoral level studies as a way of strengthening health system research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Objective
The aim of this study was to explore the challenges of, and facilitating factors for, ‘nesting’ doctoral students in North–South collaborative research projects. The term nesting refers to the embedding of the processes of recruiting, supervising, and coordinating doctoral students in the overall research plan and processes.
Design
This cross-sectional qualitative study was undertaken by the EU-funded QUALMAT Project. A questionnaire was implemented with doctoral students, supervisors, and country principal investigators (PIs), and content analysis was undertaken.
Results
Completed questionnaires were received from nine doctoral students, six supervisors, and three country PIs (86% responses rate). The doctoral students from SSA described high expectations about the input they would receive (administrative support, equipment, training, supervision). This contrasted with the expectations of the supervisors for proactivity and self-management on the part of the students. The rationale for candidate selection, and understandings of the purpose of the doctoral students in the project were areas of considerable divergence. There were some challenges associated with the use of the country PIs as co-supervisors. Doctoral student progress was at times impeded by delays in the release of funding instalments from the EU. The paper provides a checklist of essential requirements and a set of recommendations for effective nesting of doctoral students in joint North–South projects.
Conclusion
There are considerable challenges to the effective nesting of doctoral students within major collaborative research projects. However, ways can be found to overcome them. The nesting process ultimately helped the institutions involved in this example to take better advantage of the opportunities that collaborative projects offer to foster North–South partnerships as a contribution to the strengthening of local research capacity.
doi:10.3402/gha.v7.24070
PMCID: PMC4101456  PMID: 25030216
collaborative project; doctoral students; health systems research capacity; North–South Partnership
2.  Multiple policies to enhance prescribing efficiency for established medicines in Europe with a particular focus on demand-side measures: findings and future implications 
Introduction: The appreciable growth in pharmaceutical expenditure has resulted in multiple initiatives across Europe to lower generic prices and enhance their utilization. However, considerable variation in their use and prices.
Objective: Assess the influence of multiple supply and demand-side initiatives across Europe for established medicines to enhance prescribing efficiency before a decision to prescribe a particular medicine. Subsequently utilize the findings to suggest potential future initiatives that countries could consider.
Method: An analysis of different methodologies involving cross national and single country retrospective observational studies on reimbursed use and expenditure of PPIs, statins, and renin-angiotensin inhibitor drugs among European countries.
Results: Nature and intensity of the various initiatives appreciably influenced prescribing behavior and expenditure, e.g., multiple measures resulted in reimbursed expenditure for PPIs in Scotland in 2010 56% below 2001 levels despite a 3-fold increase in utilization and in the Netherlands, PPI expenditure fell by 58% in 2010 vs. 2000 despite a 3-fold increase in utilization. A similar picture was seen with prescribing restrictions, i.e., (i) more aggressive follow-up of prescribing restrictions for patented statins and ARBs resulted in a greater reduction in the utilization of patented statins in Austria vs. Norway and lower utilization of patented ARBs vs. generic ACEIs in Croatia than Austria. However, limited impact of restrictions on esomeprazole in Norway with the first prescription or recommendation in hospital where restrictions do not apply. Similar findings when generic losartan became available in Western Europe.
Conclusions: Multiple demand-side measures are needed to influence prescribing patterns. When combined with supply-side measures, activities can realize appreciable savings. Health authorities cannot rely on a “spill over” effect between classes to affect changes in prescribing.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00106
PMCID: PMC4060455  PMID: 24987370
demand-side measures; drug utilization studies; generics; PPIs; renin-angiotensin inhibitor drugs; statins
3.  Dabigatran - a continuing exemplar case history demonstrating the need for comprehensive models to optimize the utilization of new drugs 
Background: There are potential conflicts between authorities and companies to fund new premium priced drugs especially where there are effectiveness, safety and/or budget concerns. Dabigatran, a new oral anticoagulant for the prevention of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), exemplifies this issue. Whilst new effective treatments are needed, there are issues in the elderly with dabigatran due to variable drug concentrations, no known antidote and dependence on renal elimination. Published studies showed dabigatran to be cost-effective but there are budget concerns given the prevalence of AF. These concerns resulted in extensive activities pre- to post-launch to manage its introduction.
Objective: To (i) review authority activities across countries, (ii) use the findings to develop new models to better manage the entry of new drugs, and (iii) review the implications based on post-launch activities.
Methodology: (i) Descriptive review and appraisal of activities regarding dabigatran, (ii) development of guidance for key stakeholder groups through an iterative process, (iii) refining guidance following post launch studies.
Results: Plethora of activities to manage dabigatran including extensive pre-launch activities, risk sharing arrangements, prescribing restrictions and monitoring of prescribing post launch. Reimbursement has been denied in some countries due to concerns with its budget impact and/or excessive bleeding. Development of a new model and future guidance is proposed to better manage the entry of new drugs, centering on three pillars of pre-, peri-, and post-launch activities. Post-launch activities include increasing use of patient registries to monitor the safety and effectiveness of new drugs in clinical practice.
Conclusion: Models for introducing new drugs are essential to optimize their prescribing especially where concerns. Without such models, new drugs may be withdrawn prematurely and/or struggle for funding.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00109
PMCID: PMC4050532  PMID: 24959145
critical drug evaluation; dabigatran; demand-side measures; managed introduction new medicines; registries
4.  Personalizing health care: feasibility and future implications 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:179.
Considerable variety in how patients respond to treatments, driven by differences in their geno- and/ or phenotypes, calls for a more tailored approach. This is already happening, and will accelerate with developments in personalized medicine. However, its promise has not always translated into improvements in patient care due to the complexities involved. There are also concerns that advice for tests has been reversed, current tests can be costly, there is fragmentation of funding of care, and companies may seek high prices for new targeted drugs. There is a need to integrate current knowledge from a payer’s perspective to provide future guidance. Multiple findings including general considerations; influence of pharmacogenomics on response and toxicity of drug therapies; value of biomarker tests; limitations and costs of tests; and potentially high acquisition costs of new targeted therapies help to give guidance on potential ways forward for all stakeholder groups. Overall, personalized medicine has the potential to revolutionize care. However, current challenges and concerns need to be addressed to enhance its uptake and funding to benefit patients.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-179
PMCID: PMC3750765  PMID: 23941275
Biomarkers; Drug development; Genomics; Genotyping; Healthcare policy; Pharmacogenetics precision medicine; Personalized medicine; Health authorities; Rational use of medicines; Reimbursement; Targeted treatments
5.  Influence of efavirenz pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics on neuropsychological disorders in Ugandan HIV-positive patients with or without tuberculosis: a prospective cohort study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:261.
Background
HIV infection, anti-tuberculosis and efavirenz therapy are associated with neuropsychological effects. We evaluated the influence of rifampicin cotreatment, efavirenz pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics on neuropsychiatric disorders in Ugandan HIV patients with or without tuberculosis coinfection.
Methods
197 treatment naïve Ugandan HIV patients, of whom 138 were TB co-infected, enrolled prospectively and received efavirenz based HAART. TB-HIV confected patients received concomitant rifampicin based anti-TB therapy. Genotypes for CYP2B6 (*6, *11), CYP3A5 (*3, *6, *7), ABCB1 (c.3435C>T and c.4036 A/G rs3842), CYP2A6 (*9, *17) and NR1I3 rs3003596 T/C were determined. Efavirenz plasma concentrations were serially quantified at 3rd day, 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 12th weeks during therapy. Efavirenz neuropsychiatric symptoms were evaluated in terms of sleep disorders, hallucinations and cognitive effects at baseline, at two and twelve weeks of efavirenz treatment using a modified Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) score.
Results
During the first twelve weeks of ART, 73.6% of the patients experienced at least one efavirenz related neuropsychiatric symptom. Commonest symptoms experienced were sleep disorders 60.5% (n=124) and hallucination 30.7% (n=63). Neuropsychiatric symptoms during HAART were significantly predicted by efavirenz plasma concentrations consistently. Rifampicin cotreatment reduced plasma efavirenz concentrations significantly only during the first week but not afterwards. There was no significant difference in the incidence of neuropsychiatric symptoms between patients receiving efavirenz with or without rifampicin cotreatment. CYP2B6*6 and ABCB1 c.4036 A/G genotype significantly predicted efavirenz concentrations. The tendency of CYP2B6*6 genotype association with higher incidence of having vivid dream (p=0.05), insomnia (p=0.19) and tactile hallucination (p=0.09) was observed mainly at week-2.
Conclusions
Efavirenz related neuropsychiatric symptoms are common among Ugandan HIV patients receiving ART and is mainly predicted by higher efavirenz plasma concentrations and CYP2B6 genotype but not by rifampicin based anti-TB co-treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-261
PMCID: PMC3680019  PMID: 23734829
Efavirenz; Neuropsychiatric toxicity; Rifampicin; CYP2B6; HIV; Tuberculosis; CNS; Antiretroviral therapy; Ugandans
6.  Pharmacogenetic-Based Efavirenz Dose Modification: Suggestions for an African Population and the Different CYP2B6 Genotypes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86919.
Background
Pharmacogenetics contributes to inter-individual variability in pharmacokinetics (PK) of efavirenz (EFV), leading to variations in both efficacy and toxicity. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of genetic factors on EFV pharmacokinetics, treatment outcomes and genotype based EFV dose recommendations for adult HIV-1 infected Ugandans.
Methods
In total, 556 steady-state plasma EFV concentrations from 99 HIV infected patients (64 female) treated with EFV/lamivudine/zidovidine were analyzed. Patient genotypes for CYP2B6 (*6 & *11), CYP3A5 (*3,*6 & *7) and ABCB1 c.4046A>G, baseline biochemistries and CD4 and viral load change from baseline were determined. A one-compartment population PK model with first-order absorption (NONMEM) was used to estimate genotype effects on EFV pharmacokinetics. PK simulations were performed based upon population genotype frequencies. Predicted AUCs were compared between the product label and simulations for doses of 300 mg, 450 mg, and 600 mg.
Results
EFV apparent clearance (CL/F) was 2.2 and 1.74 fold higher in CYP2B6*6 (*1/*1) and CYP2B6*6 (*1/*6) compared CYP2B6*6 (*6/*6) carriers, while a 22% increase in F1 was observed for carriers of ABCB1 c.4046A>G variant allele. Higher mean AUC was attained in CYP2B6 *6/*6 genotypes compared to CYP2B6 *1/*1 (p<0.0001). Simulation based AUCs for 600 mg doses were 1.25 and 2.10 times the product label mean AUC for the Ugandan population in general and CYP2B6*6/*6 genotypes respectively. Simulated exposures for EFV daily doses of 300 mg and 450 mg are comparable to the product label. Viral load fell precipitously on treatment, with only six patients having HIV RNA >40 copies/mL after 84 days of treatment. No trend with exposure was noted for these six patients.
Conclusion
Results of this study suggest that daily doses of 450 mg and 300 mg might meet the EFV treatment needs of HIV-1 infected Ugandans in general and individuals homozygous for CYP2B6*6 mutation, respectively.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086919
PMCID: PMC3909010  PMID: 24497997
7.  'How to know what you need to do': a cross-country comparison of maternal health guidelines in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania 
Background
Initiatives to raise the quality of care provided to mothers need to be given priority in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). The promotion of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) is a common strategy, but their implementation is often challenging, limiting their potential impact. Through a cross-country perspective, this study explored CPGs for maternal health in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Tanzania. The objectives were to compare factors related to CPG use including their content compared with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, their format, and their development processes. Perceptions of their availability and use in practice were also explored. The overall purpose was to further the understanding of how to increase CPGs' potential to improve quality of care for mothers in SSA.
Methods
The study was a multiple case study design consisting of cross-country comparisons using document review and key informant interviews. A conceptual framework to aid analysis and discussion of results was developed, including selected domains related to guidelines' implementability and use by health workers in practice in terms of usability, applicability, and adaptability.
Results
The study revealed few significant differences in content between the national guidelines for maternal health and WHO recommendations. There were, however, marked variations in the format of CPGs between the three countries. Apart from the Ghanaian and one of the Tanzanian CPGs, the levels of both usability and applicability were assessed as low or medium. In all three countries, the use of CPGs by health workers in practice was perceived to be limited.
Conclusion
Our cross-country study suggests that it is not poor quality of content or lack of evidence base that constitute the major barrier for CPGs to positively impact on quality improvement in maternal care in SSA. It rather emphasises the need to prioritise the format of guidelines to increase their usability and applicability and to consider these attributes together with implementation strategies as integral to their development processes.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-31
PMCID: PMC3372446  PMID: 22500744
CPGs; Health service delivery; Implementation; Information and communication technology (ICT); Maternal health; Quality improvement; Sub Saharan Africa; WHO
8.  Dabigatran – a case history demonstrating the need for comprehensive approaches to optimize the use of new drugs 
Background: There are potential conflicts between authorities and companies to fund new premium priced drugs especially where there are safety and/or budget concerns. Dabigatran, a new oral anticoagulant for the prevention of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), exemplifies this issue. Whilst new effective treatments are needed, there are issues in the elderly with dabigatran due to variable drug concentrations, no known antidote and dependence on renal elimination. Published studies have shown dabigatran to be cost-effective but there are budget concerns given the prevalence of AF. There are also issues with potentially re-designing anticoagulant services. This has resulted in activities across countries to better manage its use.
Objective: To (i) review authority activities in over 30 countries and regions, (ii) use the findings to develop new models to better manage the entry of new drugs, and (iii) review the implications for all major stakeholder groups.
Methodology: Descriptive review and appraisal of activities regarding dabigatran and the development of guidance for groups through an iterative process.
Results: There has been a plethora of activities among authorities to manage the prescribing of dabigatran including extensive pre-launch activities, risk sharing arrangements, prescribing restrictions, and monitoring of prescribing post-launch. Reimbursement has been denied in some countries due to concerns with its budget impact and/or excessive bleeding. Development of a new model and future guidance is proposed to better manage the entry of new drugs, centering on three pillars of pre-, peri-, and post-launch activities.
Conclusion: Models for introducing new drugs are essential to optimize their prescribing especially where there are concerns. Without such models, new drugs may be withdrawn prematurely and/or struggle for funding.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2013.00039
PMCID: PMC3653065  PMID: 23717279
critical drug evaluation; dabigatran; demand-side measures; drug and therapeutics committees; managed introduction new medicines; pharmacovigilance; registries; risk sharing
9.  Use of Generics—A Critical Cost Containment Measure for All Healthcare Professionals in Europe? 
Pharmaceuticals  2010;3(8):2470-2494.
Pharmaceutical expenditures in ambulatory care rose rapidly in Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s. This was typically faster than other components of healthcare spending, leading to reforms to moderate future growth. A number of these centered on generic medicines with measures to lower reimbursed prices as well as enhance their prescribing and dispensing. The principal objective of this paper is to review additional measures that some European countries can adopt to further reduce reimbursed prices for generics. Secondly, potential approaches to address concerns with generics when they arise to maximize savings. Measures to enhance the prescribing of generics will also briefly be discussed. A narrative review of the extensive number of publications and associated references from the co-authors was conducted supplemented with known internal or web-based articles. In addition, health authority and health insurance databases, principally from 2001 to 2007, were analyzed to assess the impact of the various measures on price reductions for generic omeprazole and generic simvastatin vs. pre-patent loss prices, as well as overall efficiency in Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) and statin prescribing. The various initiatives generally resulted in considerable lowering of the prices of generics as well as specifically for generic omeprazole and generic simvastatin vs. pre-patent loss prices. At one stage in the UK, generic simvastatin was just 2% of the originator price. These measures also led to increased efficiency for PPI and statin prescribing with reimbursed expenditure for the PPIs and statins either falling or increasing at appreciably lower rates than increases in utilization. A number of strategies have also been introduced to address patient and physician concerns with generics to maximize savings. In conclusion, whilst recent reforms have been successful, European countries must continue learning from each other to fund increased volumes and new innovative drugs as resource pressures grow. Policies regarding generics and their subsequent impact on reimbursement and utilization of single sourced products will continue to play a key role to release valuable resources. However, there must continue to be strategies to address concerns with generics when they exist.
doi:10.3390/ph3082470
PMCID: PMC4033935
generic drugs; generic substitution; cost containment; pricing
10.  Risk sharing arrangements for pharmaceuticals: potential considerations and recommendations for European payers 
Background
There has been an increase in 'risk sharing' schemes for pharmaceuticals between healthcare institutions and pharmaceutical companies in Europe in recent years as an additional approach to provide continued comprehensive and equitable healthcare. There is though confusion surrounding the terminology as well as concerns with existing schemes.
Methods
Aliterature review was undertaken to identify existing schemes supplemented with additional internal documents or web-based references known to the authors. This was combined with the extensive knowledge of health authority personnel from 14 different countries and locations involved with these schemes.
Results and discussion
A large number of 'risk sharing' schemes with pharmaceuticals are in existence incorporating both financial-based models and performance-based/outcomes-based models. In view of this, a new logical definition is proposed. This is "risk sharing' schemes should be considered as agreements concluded by payers and pharmaceutical companies to diminish the impact on payers' budgets for new and existing schemes brought about by uncertainty and/or the need to work within finite budgets". There are a number of concerns with existing schemes. These include potentially high administration costs, lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, and whether health authorities will end up funding an appreciable proportion of a new drug's development costs. In addition, there is a paucity of published evaluations of existing schemes with pharmaceuticals.
Conclusion
We believe there are only a limited number of situations where 'risk sharing' schemes should be considered as well as factors that should be considered by payers in advance of implementation. This includes their objective, appropriateness, the availability of competent staff to fully evaluate proposed schemes as well as access to IT support. This also includes whether systematic evaluations have been built into proposed schemes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-153
PMCID: PMC2906457  PMID: 20529296
11.  Forecasting drug utilization and expenditure in a metropolitan health region 
Background
New pharmacological therapies are challenging the healthcare systems, and there is an increasing need to assess their therapeutic value in relation to existing alternatives as well as their potential budget impact. Consequently, new models to introduce drugs in healthcare are urgently needed. In the metropolitan health region of Stockholm, Sweden, a model has been developed including early warning (horizon scanning), forecasting of drug utilization and expenditure, critical drug evaluation as well as structured programs for the introduction and follow-up of new drugs. The aim of this paper is to present the forecasting model and the predicted growth in all therapeutic areas in 2010 and 2011.
Methods
Linear regression analysis was applied to aggregate sales data on hospital sales and dispensed drugs in ambulatory care, including both reimbursed expenditure and patient co-payment. The linear regression was applied on each pharmacological group based on four observations 2006-2009, and the crude predictions estimated for the coming two years 2010-2011. The crude predictions were then adjusted for factors likely to increase or decrease future utilization and expenditure, such as patent expiries, new drugs to be launched or new guidelines from national bodies or the regional Drug and Therapeutics Committee. The assessment included a close collaboration with clinical, clinical pharmacological and pharmaceutical experts from the regional Drug and Therapeutics Committee.
Results
The annual increase in total expenditure for prescription and hospital drugs was predicted to be 2.0% in 2010 and 4.0% in 2011. Expenditures will increase in most therapeutic areas, but most predominantly for antineoplastic and immune modulating agents as well as drugs for the nervous system, infectious diseases, and blood and blood-forming organs.
Conclusions
The utilisation and expenditure of drugs is difficult to forecast due to uncertainties about the rate of adoption of new medicines and various ongoing healthcare reforms and activities to improve the quality and efficiency of prescribing. Nevertheless, we believe our model will be valuable as an early warning system to start developing guidance for new drugs including systems to monitor their effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness in clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-128
PMCID: PMC2893175  PMID: 20478043
12.  Potential to Enhance the Prescribing of Generic Drugs in Patients with Mental Health Problems in Austria; Implications for the Future 
Background: Scrutiny over pharmaceutical expenditure is increasing leading to multiple reforms. This includes Austria with measures to lower generic prices and enhance their utilization. However the situation for newer antidepressants and atypical antipsychotic medicines (AAPs) is different to PPIs, statins, and renin-angiotensin inhibitor drugs with greater tailoring of therapy and no wish to switch products in stable patients. Authorities welcome generics though given the high costs particularly of single-sourced AAPs. Objective: Assess (a) changes in utilization of venlafaxine versus other newer antidepressants before and after availability of generics, (b) utilization of generic versus originator venlafaxine, (c) price reductions of venlafaxine over time and their influence on total expenditure, (d) utilization of risperidone versus other AAPs, (e) suggest potential additional reforms that could be introduced if pertinent to further enhance the use of generics. Methodology: A quasi-experimental study design with a segmented time series and an observational study. Utilization measured in defined daily doses (DDDs) and total expenditure per DDD and over time. Results: No appreciable changes in the utilization of venlafaxine and risperidone after generics. The reduction in expenditure/DDD for venlafaxine decreased overall expenditure on newer antidepressants by 5% by the end of the study versus just before generics despite a 37% increase in utilization. Expenditure will further decrease if reduced prescribing of duloxetine. Conclusion: Depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar diseases are complex diseases. As a result, specific measures are needed to encourage the prescribing of generic risperidone and venlafaxine when multiple choices are appropriate. Authorities cannot rely on a “Hawthorne” effect between classes to enhance the use of generics. Measures may include prescribing restrictions for duloxetine. No specific measures planned for AAPs with more multiple-sourced AAPs becoming available.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2012.00198
PMCID: PMC3538280  PMID: 23308071
Austria; antidepressants; atypical antipsychotics; drug utilization studies; generics; risperidone; reforms; schizophrenia
13.  Field-adapted sampling of whole blood to determine the levels of amodiaquine and its metabolite in children with uncomplicated malaria treated with amodiaquine plus artesunate combination 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:52.
Background
Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) has been widely adopted as first-line treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria. In Uganda, amodiaquine plus artesunate (AQ+AS), is the alternative first-line regimen to Coartem® (artemether + lumefantrine) for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Currently, there are few field-adapted analytical techniques for monitoring amodiaquine utilization in patients. This study evaluates the field applicability of a new method to determine amodiaquine and its metabolite concentrations in whole blood dried on filter paper.
Methods
Twelve patients aged between 1.5 to 8 years with uncomplicated malaria received three standard oral doses of AQ+AS. Filter paper blood samples were collected before drug intake and at six different time points over 28 days period. A new field-adapted sampling procedure and liquid chromatographic method was used for quantitative determination of amodiaquine and its metabolite in whole blood.
Results
The sampling procedure was successively applied in the field. Amodiaquine could be quantified for at least three days and the metabolite up to 28 days. All parasites in all the 12 patients cleared within the first three days of treatment and no adverse drug effects were observed.
Conclusion
The methodology is suitable for field studies. The possibility to determine the concentration of the active metabolite of amodiaquine up to 28 days suggested that the method is sensitive enough to monitor amodiaquine utilization in patients. Amodiaquine plus artesunate seems effective for treatment of falciparum malaria.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-8-52
PMCID: PMC2678144  PMID: 19331684
14.  Impact of training in clinical and microscopy diagnosis of childhood malaria on antimalarial drug prescription and health outcome at primary health care level in Tanzania: A randomized controlled trial 
Malaria Journal  2008;7:199.
Background
Prescribing antimalarial medicines based on parasite confirmed diagnosis of malaria is critical to rational drug use and optimal outcome of febrile illness. The impact of microscopy-based versus clinical-based diagnosis of childhood malaria was assessed at primary health care (PHC) facilities using a cluster randomized controlled training intervention trial.
Methods
Sixteen PHC facilities in rural Tanzania were randomly allocated to training of health staff in clinical algorithm plus microscopy (Arm-I, n = 5) or clinical algorithm only (Arm-II, n = 5) or no training (Arm-III, n = 6). Febrile under-five children presenting at these facilities were assessed, treated and scheduled for follow up visit after 7 days. Blood smears on day 0 were only done in Arm-I but on Day 7 in all arms. Primary outcome was antimalarial drug prescription. Other outcomes included antibiotic prescription and health outcome. Multilevel regression models were applied with PHC as level of clustering to compare outcomes in the three study arms.
Results
A total of 973, 1,058 and 1,100 children were enrolled in arms I, II and III, respectively, during the study period. Antimalarial prescriptions were significantly reduced in Arm-I (61.3%) compared to Arms-II (95.3%) and III (99.5%) (both P < 0.001), whereas antibiotic prescriptions did not vary significantly between the arms (49.9%, 54.8% and 34.2%, respectively). In Arm-I, 99.1% of children with positive blood smear readings received antimalarial prescriptions and so did 11.3% of children with negative readings. Those with positive readings were less likely to be prescribed antibiotics than those with negative (relative risk = 0.66, 95% confidence interval: 0.55, 0.72). On day 7 follow-up, more children reported symptoms in Arm-I compared to Arm-III, but fewer children had malaria parasitaemia (p = 0.049). The overall sensitivity of microscopy reading at PHC compared to reference level was 74.5% and the specificity was 59.0% but both varied widely between PHCs.
Conclusion
Microscopy based diagnosis of malaria at PHC facilities reduces prescription of antimalarial drugs, and appears to improve appropriate management of non-malaria fevers, but major variation in accuracy of the microscopy readings was found. Lack of qualified laboratory technicians at PHC facilities and the relatively short training period may have contributed to the shortcomings.
Trial registration
This study is registered at Clinicaltrials.gov with the identifier NCT00687895.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-7-199
PMCID: PMC2566575  PMID: 18831737
15.  Malaria Rapid Testing by Community Health Workers Is Effective and Safe for Targeting Malaria Treatment: Randomised Cross-Over Trial in Tanzania 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e19753.
Background
Early diagnosis and prompt, effective treatment of uncomplicated malaria is critical to prevent severe disease, death and malaria transmission. We assessed the impact of rapid malaria diagnostic tests (RDTs) by community health workers (CHWs) on provision of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and health outcome in fever patients.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Twenty-two CHWs from five villages in Kibaha District, a high-malaria transmission area in Coast Region, Tanzania, were trained to manage uncomplicated malaria using RDT aided diagnosis or clinical diagnosis (CD) only. Each CHW was randomly assigned to use either RDT or CD the first week and thereafter alternating weekly. Primary outcome was provision of ACT and main secondary outcomes were referral rates and health status by days 3 and 7. The CHWs enrolled 2930 fever patients during five months of whom 1988 (67.8%) presented within 24 hours of fever onset. ACT was provided to 775 of 1457 (53.2%) patients during RDT weeks and to 1422 of 1473 (96.5%) patients during CD weeks (Odds Ratio (OR) 0.039, 95% CI 0.029–0.053). The CHWs adhered to the RDT results in 1411 of 1457 (96.8%, 95% CI 95.8–97.6) patients. More patients were referred on inclusion day during RDT weeks (10.0%) compared to CD weeks (1.6%). Referral during days 1–7 and perceived non-recovery on days 3 and 7 were also more common after RDT aided diagnosis. However, no fatal or severe malaria occurred among 682 patients in the RDT group who were not treated with ACT, supporting the safety of withholding ACT to RDT negative patients.
Conclusions/Significance
RDTs in the hands of CHWs may safely improve early and well-targeted ACT treatment in malaria patients at community level in Africa.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00301015
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019753
PMCID: PMC3130036  PMID: 21750697
16.  Policies to Enhance Prescribing Efficiency in Europe: Findings and Future Implications 
Introduction: European countries need to learn from each other to address unsustainable increases in pharmaceutical expenditures. Objective: To assess the influence of the many supply and demand-side initiatives introduced across Europe to enhance prescribing efficiency in ambulatory care. As a result provide future guidance to countries. Methods: Cross national retrospective observational study of utilization (DDDs – defined daily doses) and expenditure (Euros and local currency) of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and statins among 19 European countries and regions principally from 2001 to 2007. Demand-side measures categorized under the “4Es” – education engineering, economics, and enforcement. Results: Instigating supply side initiatives to lower the price of generics combined with demand-side measures to enhance their prescribing is important to maximize prescribing efficiency. Just addressing one component will limit potential efficiency gains. The influence of demand-side reforms appears additive, with multiple initiatives typically having a greater influence on increasing prescribing efficiency than single measures apart from potentially “enforcement.” There are also appreciable differences in expenditure (€/1000 inhabitants/year) between countries. Countries that have not introduced multiple demand side measures to counteract commercial pressures to enhance the prescribing of generics have seen considerably higher expenditures than those that have instigated a range of measures. Conclusions: There are considerable opportunities for European countries to enhance their prescribing efficiency, with countries already learning from each other. The 4E methodology allows European countries to concisely capture the range of current demand-side measures and plan for the future knowing that initiatives can be additive to further enhance their prescribing efficiency.
doi:10.3389/fphar.2010.00141
PMCID: PMC3153015  PMID: 21833180
drugs; generics; economics; pharmaceuticals; efficiency; sustainability

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