Global understanding for bridging the gap between developed and developing countries
Ben Boyd and Michelle McIntosh
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University
In the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ben Boyd and Michelle McIntosh teach a unit about the drug development process. They emphasise that drug products are made for a global market. Students therefore need to be aware of the global considerations
in drug development. For instance, in their unit, they teach students about the major regulatory bodies in Australia, America, Europe and Asia. They also highlight the work that is being done to create international standards for drug products, and
the impact that that has on the development process. To encourage international collaboration, Ben runs a lab in which students at the National University of Singapore and at Monash University conduct the same standard protocol and then compare data.
They have to work together to identify differences in the data and try to explain them. Michelle also runs a cross-disciplinary unit where students have to research and present on aspects of the drug development process for a new drug. These drugs
have often been approved by overseas regulatory bodies. Therefore,
students are required to use international literature and patents for
their research, and must have an understanding of how drug approval
works across the globe.
Case studies of international research done at Monash are also utilised by Michelle in her units. She explains to her students with these case studies how different cultures do not have the same perceptions of medicine. One particular case study comes from her research on oxytocin. In wealthy countries such as Australia, supply of oxytocin, which is a key medication to prevent postpartum haemorrhaging (PPH), is an issue. However, current injectable formulations require cold chain infrastructure and skilled medical staff to administer it. In less developed countries, cold chain infrastructure and medical staff may be missing, and as such many women die each year due to PPH. Michelle’s project aims to solve these global issues by developing a heat resistant inhalable powder form of oxytocin that does not require cold chain infrastructure or the need of skilled medical staff to administer. By considering the perspectives of different cultural contexts, drugs can be designed in a way that decreases the disparity between developed and developing countries. Students must understand the culture and economics of the country the drug is intended for, and how this affects key decisions made in its development process.