The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is taking a major role in helping to ensure that medical products and pharmaceuticals used around the world are safe.
UTHSC has been designated a Center of Excellence in global medical product quality and pharmaceutical supply chain security by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), an international forum supporting economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. In that capacity, the university will host pharmaceutical industry representatives and regulators from 13 countries for a four-day conference, June 26-29, to discuss strategies to guarantee that global pharmaceutical manufacturing, shipping, and delivery are as safe and secure as possible.
Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC, has been active for several years in APEC's global pharmaceutical supply chain safety efforts.
Dr. Brown is leading the development of the new Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems at UTHSC, a $16 million pharmaceutical manufacturing facility opening late this summer. He has made presentations in China, the Philippines, Peru, and elsewhere to senior officials of APEC about the university's desire to be involved in the global effort surrounding patient safety and product security. He has also hosted delegates from China and Africa at UTHSC to discuss pharmaceutical manufacturing, delivery, and safety issues.
"The reason the university is involved can be boiled down to that we train health care providers, pharmacists, physicians, PAs, and nurses who bear the responsibility of taking care of the citizens of the state of Tennessee and people across the world," he said. "We have a lot of teaching hospital affiliates, in which patients are treated. We are, via the Plough Center, going to be in the pharmaceutical manufacturing business. We, through the College of Pharmacy and through the College of Medicine, do a lot of drug discovery. Ensuring that the pharmaceutical supply chain is preserved and that people do get high-quality, effective pharmaceuticals touches our mission in so many ways."
The issue of safety in the drug industry is particularly important for consumers in light of the growing internet pharmaceutical market and the emerging international problem of counterfeit drug manufacturing. There have been multiple instances in the United States and overseas in which patients suffered catastrophic, and sometimes fatal, outcomes from taking pharmaceuticals that were not manufactured according to safety standards or were not what they purported to be.
The conference, which will be held in the UTHSC College of Pharmacy, is themed, "Protecting Patient Safety in the Global Marketplace through GDPs (Good Distribution Practices) and Product Security Measures." Participants from countries including Indonesia, Philippines, Peru, Mexico, Japan, Russia, Thailand, and Switzerland are expected. They represent agencies including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Public Health Service, and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as industries including Merck and Co., Inc.; Pfizer; and Johnson & Johnson.
Among topics to be discussed are product security tools and tracking to mitigate vulnerabilities in the supply chain, risk factors and best practices to prevent product diversion, and systems and process to detect falsified medicines. Harry Kochat, PhD, director of the Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Systems at UTHSC, will give a keynote address on Thursday, June 29, on ideas developed at UTHSC to support FDA security protocols.
"I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase, not just the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, but to showcase Memphis, and to showcase the state of Tennessee to the international community that will be coming to Memphis," Dr. Brown said.