RTP nonprofit is creating access to drugs in sub-Saharan Africa

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — For nearly 45 years, Dhiren R. Thakker had a career in research at the National Institutes of Health and in drug discovery at Glaxo, now GSK.

But the former interim dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy decided he wanted to serve those in most need.

Enter Med Aditus International, a new nonprofit headquartered in RTP that he’s launched this week to make quality, life-saving medicines available at affordable prices to patients in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Our vision is to create a sustainable enterprise that contributes to a lasting solution to the acute need for life-saving medicines in the region where we serve,” said Thakker, in a statement.

“This requires us to be proactive and progressive, and to become a key player in training Africa’s future pharmaceutical workforce, which will be critical to meet the needs of the industry in the region.”

It’s estimated that between 2013 and 2017, 42 percent of all counterfeit drugs were found in Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This statistic, Thakkar said, can be attributed in part to the fact that “constrained access to quality, safe and effective medical products” creates a vacuum.

Med Aditus seeks to partner with Sub-Saharan African nations, international agencies, and private
sector organizations to build a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and a secure distribution network.

It also aims to forge strategic partnerships with local governments and academic institutions to develop targeted education and training programs that will facilitate the growth of a knowledgeable and
talented workforce.

“Access to quality and affordable medicine should not be a privilege, but a right for everyone. The expansion of Med Aditus into sub-Saharan Africa couldn’t be coming in at a more timely time, as many countries seek to strengthen their national pharmaceutical systems,” said Betty Tushabe, Country Director, IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rwanda.

Med Aditus’ board of directors comprises accomplished leaders in global health, education, innovation, and the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Pape Gaye, M.B.A, President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of IntraHealth International, serves as Board Chair.
  • Gaye continues to serve IntraHealth as an advisor and provides technical assistance to their Francophone West Africa Program on Family Planning and Reproductive Health. He is also setting up a new regional NGO in Senegal focused on strengthening the capacity of local NGOs working in Global Health.
  • Bill Charman, Ph.D., is the Dean Emeritus and Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor at Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Charman is an accomplished scientist and leader in drug discovery and delivery fields, such as neglected diseases like Malaria. He serves on scientific advisory boards and corporate boards in the pharma and biotech industry, and has served as an advisor and consultant to Wellcome Trust, Medicines for Malaria Venture, and the WHO.
  • W. Mark Crowell is the President and Co-Founder of Arkane Innovation and a prominent global figure in the innovation and entrepreneurship space. Crowell is also a veteran of academic technology transfer and has helped launch more than 135 start-up companies and numerous products and services from six academic institutions with global reputation.
  • Ronald P. Strauss, D.M.D., Ph.D., is the Executive Vice Provost at UNC-Chapel Hill, and served as UNC’s Chief International Officer (CIO) for 10 years. As CIO, Strauss forged strategic partnerships in all continents, enhanced international research collaborations for faculty, and promoted global experiences for students. He has published extensively on social impacts of chronic health problems, including HIV/AIDS.
  • Brenda Brown Schoonover is the former U.S. Ambassador to Togo in West Africa. Prior to that, Schoonover served as a Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, where she also served as Charge d’Affaires ad interim (Acting Ambassador). She has had diplomatic assignments in Belgium, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Tunisia and Washington, D.C.

“As always, Dr. Dhiren Thakker has assembled a diverse group of professionals ranging from global healthcare leaders, entrepreneurs, and graduate students who are ready to follow his experienced leadership in this important venture,” said Julie Barnes-Weise , executive director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Alliance Accelerator (GHIAA). “I am happy to add my support to help Med Aditus reach its ambitious and vital goals.”

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire