Report from Quebec City

I attended a fascinating meeting about pediatric formulations of AIDS drugs in Quebec City yesterday. The Forum for Collaborative HIV Research convened the meeting, which was different from the typical scientific meeting in two important ways:

  • It brought together constituencies that normally operate in their own silos, but whose collaboration is needed to move the field forward. Participants included groups that almost never interact: brand name and generic pharma companies, regulatory agencies from the US, Europe, Canada and South Africa, AIDS activists, treating physicians, research agencies, and foundations
  • The agenda emphasized energetic, constructive discussion, not just presentation of scientific papers. There was minimal posturing, which led to a free flow of information and problem solving mentality

Some interesting results emerged as a result of the unique mix of participants and the format of the meeting. For example:

  • Regulators were able to understand the difficulties drug developers face as a result of conflicting regulations of inactive ingredients among countries
  • Drug companies learned that contrary to what many had assumed, solid dosage forms are preferred to liquids, even for small children
  • Pharmacologists shared their views about the most accurate ways to calculate dosages, while physicians described the need for simple dosing tables to help care givers with minimal training do their work
  • Researchers talked about how to design new studies to improve the situation in the future, while activists emphasized what is achievable today

In all it was an inspiring day, and made me think about opportunities for collaborative approaches to other multi-disciplinary health care issues, such as quality and ehealth.

April 29, 2005

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