What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

Test Name
Test Title, Test Company

Read biography×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

Stepping Up Our Response to Ebola

Less than 100 years ago, little could be done to combat global epidemics. In 1917, Spanish influenza swept the world quickly and 50 million people died. Science and medicine significantly lagged behind medical need. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other global health authorities weren’t yet formed to help coordinate a response. And governments were without options.

Since then, innovation in R&D has significantly advanced vaccine research and production. Today, we are faced with the threat of a new global epidemic—the Ebola virus. The global health community must work in lockstep and with urgency to stop the spread of the disease.

Within the private sector, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies are mounting one of the largest scale responses to a public health threat in history. Together, we are accelerating the innovation, development and production of new Ebola medicines and vaccines.

For our part, Johnson & Johnson just announced a major $200 million commitment of resources, including a promise to produce as much of our experimental Ebola vaccine regimen as we possibly can.  We have committed a large, full-time team to the job of testing, scaling up and manufacturing the vaccine.  We expect to have more than one million doses of the vaccine regimen in 2015, with 250,000 ready for broad clinical trial application by May.

But without the help of governments, aid organizations and health authorities, our efforts would mean nothing. Ongoing development and on the ground distribution of vaccines and medicines require strong partnership with governments and tight coordination with the global health community.  Part of our Ebola commitment includes financial and other support for organizations providing healthcare in Africa, and we continue to actively participate in the coordination of a large scale global response with health authorities like WHO and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Our goodwill efforts must be met by governments in the developed world—including the US and Europe.  Our hope is that they will adequately contribute to the world’s response in a variety of ways, including helping to offset the costs and risks of developing the drugs and vaccines to fight Ebola. The more we can work together, the more lives we can save.

Right now, physicians and nurses are working on the ground in Africa to help men, women and children infected with Ebola. They are putting themselves at grave risk to deliver good healthcare to others. Many have already succumbed to infection—some ten percent of all Ebola deaths to date have been healthcare workers. Many others have fallen ill but recovered. Providing them—and all the people at risk of infection in Africa and abroad—with protective vaccines, new medicines and basic healthcare supplies, can help stop the sweep of Ebola infection across Africa and ensure it doesn’t significantly impact the rest of the world.

That is the promise of our industry, and the power of the global health community.

Thanks to scientific innovators, the industry’s commitment to invest time and resources to accelerate the production of medicines and vaccines, the leadership of global health authorities, the bravery of healthcare workers, the work of aid organizations and coordination among government leaders, we will end the Ebola epidemic and create a roadmap for successful response to future threats. 

Paul Stoffels, M.D.
Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson

Read biography×

Paul Stoffels, M.D.
Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson

Follow Paul on:

Paul Stoffels, M.D., is the Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson, and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals. As Chief Scientific Officer, he works with the R&D leaders across Johnson & Johnson to set the enterprise-wide innovation agenda.  Dr. Stoffels serves as a member of the Executive Committee and the Management Committee and has more than 20 years of global health and pharmaceutical experience. He chairs the company’s Worldwide Research & Development Council, and provides oversight to Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, the Johnson & Johnson innovations centers, and for product safety for all of the company’s products.   Dr. Stoffels began his career as a physician in Africa focusing on HIV and neglected disease research.

 

×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

Ebola response is a model of collaboration

The constant stream of photos and reports about Ebola from West Africa tragically illustrate the speed at which disease can spread, devastating communities and reshaping daily life. GSK is working with many partners at an unprecedented speed and with passionate focus to try to develop a vaccine to limit the total number of deaths from this epidemic and future outbreaks. While the current crisis is our focus, there also are lessons for the future: US health and security can be threatened by events half a world away and the global community is not fully prepared for such disease outbreaks.

We commend world health authorities, governments, public and private entities for their commitment and collaboration to aggressively meet this urgent health need, but we acknowledge the need to improve our preparations to respond to other global health crises before the next outbreak or epidemic. Americans have lived through such threats, including the anthrax-containing letters mailed to Congressional offices and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic that caused more than 10,000 deaths.  We must move now to prevent and contain future epidemics, whether it is Ebola or another emerging infectious disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) convened a meeting last week with governments, agencies, charities and companies, including GSK, to agree how to accelerate testing and deployment of vaccines that could restrict the evolution of this epidemic. GSK in concert with these organizations is trying to compress years of work into less than one year.

While this work is important and must continue with full focus, simultaneously representatives of these same experts and groups could develop a sustained and coordinated global plan to equip communities around the world for the next infectious disease threat. Great progress could be made if we harness the same sense of urgency and partnership that’s being shown in the Ebola response.  To be prepared, a central point of coordination is needed in the US and globally to make the most efficient use of funding from public and private sectors and to explore new business models and policy frameworks. The WHO has been playing this role globally on the Ebola response.

Preparation also is going to require innovative approaches to research and funding for that research. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the US is testing such new approaches. For example, BARDA agreed last year to help fund several candidates in GSK’s antibacterial portfolio. Many other biopharmaceutical companies are moving away from this research although antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming increasingly common. This marks the first time that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has partnered with a private healthcare company to flexibly move funding around several potential medicines within a portfolio instead of a single medicine.

Creative solutions to scaling up responses to potential threats also will be needed if we want to be prepared. The Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) at Texas A&M is one of three national centers that, through a public-private partnership with the U.S. government, is designated to lead pandemic preparedness activity. It is one of the facilities that has been asked by the US government to submit a proposal for making a potential medicine to treat Ebola. Within the CIADM, there is a framework under which companies such as GSK may be able to provide vaccines manufacturing technical expertise for more nimble and integrated development and manufacturing of treatments to address emerging diseases

Public health preparedness is a long-term endeavor that requires difficult decisions about the interventions needed and how they are prioritized. Representatives of the global health community need to agree on priorities, coordinate funding, lead the development of new business models and spread best practice policies that will prepare us better for the next health crisis.

Ebola is not the first or the last threat to global health.  Let’s learn from this epidemic and build on the best that we’ve seen – the global cooperation, coordination and prioritization. 

Donna Altenpohl
Vice President of Public Policy, GlaxoSmithKline

Read biography×

Donna Altenpohl
Vice President of Public Policy, GlaxoSmithKline

Follow Donna on:

Donna Altenpohl is Vice President of Public Policy for GlaxoSmithKline, one of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical firms. In her role, she and her team are responsible for developing and executing the company’s public policy strategy, as well as evaluating the implications of health care reform to the life sciences industry.

Donna joined GSK in 2006 as an Executive Account Manager for the Employer Segment. In 2008, she was promoted to Account Vice President of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Team, which was enlarged to include HHS in 2009. Donna has deep experience in the health care industry. Prior to working for GSK, Donna spent 16 years at Cigna HealthCare, where she held a series of management level positions in marketing, sales, product development and strategic planning.

Donna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College and is a graduate of the Transformational Leadership for Executives program, a GSK-sponsored developmental program at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She is based in Philadelphia and lives in Malvern, PA with her husband Bill and their three sons.

×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

Over the past several years, Direct Relief has been privileged to work with and support several deeply dedicated partners in Liberia and Sierra Leone working hard and thoughtfully to expand and improve health services for people and build back the health systems that were decimated by civil wars that ended a decade ago.  Of the many severe, chronic problems their efforts were seeking to address, the Ebola virus was not among them.  When Ebola arrived, Direct Relief’s partner organizations were on the front lines of what has since become the worst, deadliest outbreak in history.  They asked for help, and Direct Relief responded – as aggressively and expansively as possible -- and continues to do so as this is written.

Direct Relief ongoing response efforts thus far have included a series of emergency airlift deliveries, including the exceptional step of a 747 charter to deliver 100 tons of urgently needed supplies in September, and mobilizing additional resources and arranging logistics globally to deliver essential aid.  These material infusions, the largest of any private source to date, have largely been the most basic personal protective equipment (gowns, gloves, masks, suits) as well as essential medications and supplies, and have been provided to more than 1000 facilities and in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  But, they are only one type of a broad set of resources – including human, financial, and others to build physical infrastructure – that also are essential and being mobilized by other public and private groups with which Direct Relief is working in close coordination.

Direct Relief’s partner organizations – including Last Mile Health and the ELWA hospital in Liberia, and the Medical Reseach Centre and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone – have been highlighted for several years on Direct Relief’s website and in other communications because of the important work that was, and remains critical for the long-term.   Combatting Ebola requires a large-scale response, and Direct Relief will continue to bring as many resources as possible to bear on it – but with the recognition that the current crisis has been exacerbated by the problems that Direct Relief and its extraordinary partners were working hard to address before Ebola appeared.

 

Andrew MacCalla
Director of International Programs and Emergency Response, Direct Relief

Read biography×

Andrew MacCalla
Director of International Programs and Emergency Response, Direct Relief

Follow Andrew on:

Andrew MacCalla has been the primary coordinator of Direct Relief’s Haiti response – the largest humanitarian effort since the organization was founded in 1948 – managing on the ground efforts and collaborating with more than 100 Haitian health facilities, as well as the Haitian Ministry of Health. Since 2010, Direct Relief has provided life-saving medications and supplies valued at over $70 million wholesale. He has worked at Direct Relief for five years with a short break to earn a Master's Degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Melbourne. He has written numerous articles for the Huffington Post and The Sacramento Bee on Direct Relief's  work in Haiti.

×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

Rx Response is composed of members that span the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain, and so any kind of public health emergency probably will involve most, if not all, of the components of that supply chain. In the case of emerging infectious disease, there are biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers doing the research and testing for innovative new treatments and vaccines, and producing the approved products that are used for current treatment or prevention; distributors ensuring the efficient storage, delivery, and inventory management of those products; and pharmacies and other healthcare facilities providing the clinical administration and dispensing of medicines and biologics. All of these components must be functioning in order to ensure that patients maintain access to care.

In the case of recent concern about Ebola, concomitant with the extremely low risk of exposure in the US, the role of the community pharmacist as an educated, trusted healthcare resource comes to the forefront. As there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment, the pharmacist has a response role that includes arming the public with accurate informationwarning of counterfeit claims of Ebola “cures”, and explaining the true risk of exposure while, perhaps, recommending interventions to prevent diseases that are far more likely.

But the clinical care that a pharmacist provides requires a lot more than just the front-line pharmacist doing the research that is necessary to become an advisor on the topic of one specific disease.  There are interconnected links of business continuity that must be maintained all the way up the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain in order to ensure that the health of the country is maintained. No matter the incident, not only does the healthcare community need to provide care for those directly impacted, but also needs to maintain care for those who are ill for other reasons – reasons which may be due to acute or chronic illnesses. Recognition of this fact is why the entire healthcare sector is recognized as part of the critical infrastructure of the nation. Because of the critical nature of the bio-pharmaceutical supply chain and pharmacy care services, it is prudent to have a plan for the low-probability, potentially high-consequence event of an exposure to a symptomatic Ebola patient within the pharmacy or other workplace. To assist community pharmacists, and store owners and managers, Rx Response has developed checklists that can be used to help educate pharmacy and non-pharmacy staff, as well as point to some management considerations that should be considered prior to an actual event. No matter where a company or individual sits within the healthcare system, they can be doing several, not so obvious, things to help ensure that care for all patients aren’t interrupted.

  •  Educate employees on the relative risks and protective measures that are available to them.
  •  Ensure appropriate protection and disinfection supplies are on hand.
  •  Review travel plans for employees, and make sure that if employees will be traveling to an area of risk that they are healthy and trained for the potential situation.
  •  Review HR policies regarding sick leave in the case of an employee who has to undergo quarantine or post-exposure health monitoring.
  •  Review insurance coverage (e.g., disability, workman’s compensation, business interruption) for potential workplace exposures or subsequent illness.

Taking these steps will not only help the healthcare facility be prepared for Ebola, but also for other illnesses, such as influenza, which are much more likely to impact employee health and productivity.

Erin Mullen
Executive Director, Rx Response

Read biography×

Erin Mullen
Executive Director, Rx Response

Follow Erin on:

Dr. Erin Mullen is the Executive Director of Rx Response and an Associate Vice President, IT & Operations for the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). She also holds a Clinical Assistant Professor appointment with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. She is a disaster responder, serving as a reservist in the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and volunteer with the District of Columbia Medical Reserve Corps.

Prior to joining PhRMA, Dr. Mullen practiced community pharmacy and was the first Public Health Preparedness Pharmacist for the Florida Department of Health. Dr. Mullen holds a B.S. in Pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy; a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Miami; and is a Certified Emergency Manager.

×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, with multiple cases in the U.S., is of great concern to PhRMA and its members. Patients are at the center of everything we do, and the biopharmaceutical industry is ready to help individuals who have been affected by this devastating disease.

Biopharmaceutical researchers have been working to develop vaccines and treatments even before the recent outbreak, and as a result there are at least two vaccines for Ebola currently in the pipeline. While it typically takes between 10 and 15 years of research and development and an average of $1.2 billion to bring a drug to market, the World Health Organization (WHO) is looking for ways to help expedite the process during this critical time of need. The organization has reached out to Ebola experts and researchers from the biopharmaceutical industry and across the health care ecosystem to create a plan that accelerates the development of these two vaccines.

This resulted in the WHO committing to work with those involved to expedite the development of these vaccines so they can be used safely in the affected countries.

The industry is not only working to develop new vaccines and treatments, but also providing additional funding and resources to help address the Ebola epidemic. The funds and supplies donated by our members will help enable the immediate mobilization of resources, including medical products and personal protective gear to control the spread of infection.

It is important to remember that while Ebola is a highly contagious disease, applying precautionary measures in health care settings and isolating sick patients are still the primary ways to stop the spread of the disease. To learn more about what our member companies are doing, we encourage you to check out our new Ebola webpage, and if you have questions about the disease, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

Dr. Bill Chin
EVP, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, PhRMA

Read biography×

Dr. Bill Chin
EVP, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, PhRMA

Dr. Bill Chin leads PhRMA’s Scientific & Regulatory Affairs department. A physican, an endocrinologist and an academic at heart, Dr. Chin envisions establishing PhRMA as the premiere convener in advancing drug discovery and development, regulatory sciences and collaborative partnerships.

×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

Ebola: Lesson learned for future response

Ebola is a virulent virus killing well over half of the people it infects.  This Ebola outbreak is the worst we’ve seen in recent history and caught West African countries, and the many other nations who love and support (including the U.S.), off guard.  So what can we do to better prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks?

A key factor in MAP International’s swift response to the outbreak in March, 2014 was the fact that we had extensive inventories of personal protection suits (PPEs) as well as appropriate medicines and supplies on hand and ready to deploy. USAID had entrusted MAP to store, prepare and distribute PPEs in preparation for emerging pandemic threats, like the avian flu, in our implementing USAID Deliver’s Emerging Pandemic Threats program for 6 years. From this experience we know the healthcare community can better prepare in the future by having stockpiles of PPEs, gloves, masks and goggles, medicines and supplies  ready for quick shipment and distribution. These items are key in quickly responding at the initial onset of an outbreak and save the lives of healthcare workers on the front lines fighting the spread of the virus.  It is very possible that if more of these items had been immediately available in West Africa, the worldwide response could have slowed the spread of Ebola considerably.  

What could have been done better by the health community this time around?  A large scale response should have been launched at the first sign Ebola was spreading, which was clear to MAP and its partners by March, 2014.  In future outbreaks, we must decisively respond to potential threats within factors present in the regions of origin to prevent the spread of a virus like Ebola and the encompass conditions which foster its expansion. Many parts of West Africa have porous borders i.e. people freely traveled from Guinea where Patient Zero’ was found to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and beyond.   When outbreaks occur we must have a clear response plan across multiple channels to allow NGOs who are already on the ground to mount a more efficient response.

Preparing for future outbreaks is easier said than done, as there are outside circumstances within affected countries that can unwittingly foster the expansion of the outbreak.  That said, the healthcare community and its many players have the training, experience, capacity and humanitarian mandate to more aggressively stem wide spread panic common to the Ebola outbreak.  People have fled hospitals, killed those infected, threatened those helping to provide treatment, and trumped available education and information - based prevention measures. This need for education extends from West African ministries of Health to a majority of Americans previously unaware of the Ebola virus and its deadly characteristics. But we must, as potential ramifications of failure to do so can be counted in 500,000 cases, each with a name, face and a future.

Mark Mosely
VP of Global Essential Medicines, Supplies and Services , Map International

Read biography×

Mark Mosely
VP of Global Essential Medicines, Supplies and Services , Map International

Follow Mark on:

For two decades, Mark has worked to bring health and hope to those in need in +50 countries; from sustainable health development to disaster relief; from armed conflicts including Rwanda and Bosnia to 12 UN defined complex humanitarian emergencies such as Indonesia’s tsunami and Sudan’s Hunger Triangle. Serving 10 of those years at MAP in senior management positions, Mosely manages provision of donated and purchased medicines, logistics services, and supply chain / public health consulting to MAP and its partners ranging from UN World Health Organization to national ministry of health personnel, maximizing humanitarian impact of MAP and its network to +25 million people in +100 countries each year.

A native of Savannah, Georgia, Mosely earned an undergraduate degree from Mercer University, later working and training for seven years at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Social Medicine/Program in Infectious Disease. Prior to joining MAP in 1992, he worked as a magazine journalist and photographer. Mosely lives in St. Simons Island, GA with his wife Linda.

×

What can be done across the health care community to best respond to infectious diseases like Ebola?

The Ebola Outbreak: How Public-Private Partnerships Search for Solutions in Sierra Leone

When natural disasters or medical crises erupt around the globe, like the Ebola outbreak, it’s not unusual for my phone to ring at any hour of the day or night.  A government leader or foreign ambassador in Washington calls with an appeal for help because the rudimentary health systems of many nations in the developing world don’t have the capacity to respond to major health crises.  Although always composed and articulate, the voices I hear on the phone convey the urgency and grave concern that is seizing their countries back home in Asia, Africa or Latin America. Ebola was no different. 

Medical humanitarian organizations like Project HOPE are a crucial link in the chain of events when disaster relief plans are executed in a health crisis.  We deployed a team of infection control and disaster relief experts to Ebola-affected Sierra Leone in early October to assess the general health system capabilities and develop plans and recommendations for health programs that will fill gaps in the existing health system, which is overwhelmed by the Ebola outbreak.

The HOPE-led assessment was funded by Merck and Co. Inc., which also lent us two highly skilled experts from Merck Vaccines: a physician/epidemiologist and former state health officer with experience in outbreak control, and a pharmacist/epidemiologist with 27 years of military experience.  Our team met with Sierra Leone’s president, the first lady, several ministers and many other officials.

During the nine-day visit, our assessment team identified gaps in the country's ability to combat Ebola, effectively treat patients and restore its now neglected health system.  Project HOPE experts also focused on how to potentially strengthen the Sierra Leonean health system by deploying laboratories, treatment centers, education and training and other relevant projects.

Ebola has claimed over 4,920 lives in West Africa and survivors are feeling an enormous emotional toll. Our team encountered a one-year-old boy in the street.  Orphaned by Ebola, he was being fed in a cardboard box in lieu of a high chair in the major mining hub of Makeni, the fourth largest city in Sierra Leone and largest economic center of the Northern Province, where 99% of the cases tested from a population of 112,000 were positive.

The Sierra Leone government understands the need for technical and resourcing assistance, currently beyond its capability and, in addition, needs international organizations to implement solutions.Some officials are frustrated at restrictions on travel by airline and shipping companies, which make it harder to scale up the relief effort.

In a health crisis of this scale, every hour that passes is crucial – a reality well understood by the global pharmaceutical companies, who look to us to ensure that donated medicines and supplies are delivered safely to those in need.  Project HOPE has delivered multiple shipments of gloves, rehydration salts, respirators and other medical supplies to Sierra Leone, and we continue to work with our pharma and other corporate partners to secure more critically-needed supplies.

Back home, the widespread fear of Ebola spreading in the U.S. has pitted state authorities against health workers returning from West Africa, some of whom are at odds with Ebola quarantine measures.   While Ebola is not easily spread, contrary to misinformed public and media messaging, there are no vaccines or treatments against Ebola infection available yet despite substantial research progress.

Medical nonprofits like Project HOPE play a critical role in the battle against outbreaks like Ebola, and our partners in the pharmaceutical industry, including Pfizer, Merck, Boston Scientific, Eli Lilly and Co., Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, and BD and many others are on the front lines with us, providing donated medicines, supplies and financial support so that Project HOPE can answer the call of a challenged foreign leader, desperate to save lives and contain the blow to the country’s vulnerable health system and economy.

 

John P. Howe III, M.D.
President and CEO, Project Hope

Read biography×

John P. Howe III, M.D.
President and CEO, Project Hope

Follow John on:

John P. Howe III, M.D., is President and CEO of Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian assistance organization. Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to delivering sustainable improvements in health care around the world. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based health programs and has five practice areas including infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, women’s and children’s health, humanitarian assistance & disaster relief, and health systems strengthening.  Project HOPE publishes the health policy journal Health Affairs. 

×

06/11/14: How are patients with chronic conditions who have exchange coverage affected by high out-of-pocket costs for medicines?

Back to Top

Contributors:

                
Margaret Barton-Burke, President, ONS
Angela Ostrom, VP, Public Policy & Advocacy, Epilepsy Foundation
Carl Schmid, Deputy Executive Director, The AIDS Institute
Virginia T. Ladd, President , AARDA
Brian Hujdich, Executive Director, HealthHIV
Bob Blancato , Executive Director, NANASP
Lawrence A. LaMotte, Vice President, Public Policy, Immune Deficiency Foundation
Colon Cancer Alliance, Colon Cancer Alliance, Colon Cancer Alliance

Join The Conversation

06/05/14: We all want to better prevent, treat and cure the many forms of cancer. How close is the collaborative research ecosystem to achieving these goals, and what do we have to do to get there?

Back to Top

Contributors:

      
Josh Schafer, MSc. MBA, Vice President, Oncology Global Marketing Strategy, Astellas Pharmaceuticals
Rafael Amado, Senior Vice President, Oncology R&D, GlaxoSmithKline
Salvatore Alesci , VP, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, PhRMA

Join The Conversation

05/23/14: How do we promote patient-centered cancer research and care in an era of increasing pressure to control healthcare costs?

Back to Top

Contributors:

        
Marcia Kean, Chairman, Strategic Initiatives, Feinstein Kean Healthcare
Randy Burkholder, VP, Policy, PhRMA
Margaret Foti, CEO, AACR
Gwen Darien , Executive Vice President, CSC

Join The Conversation

Pages