Interactive Pharma develop strategy for Africa's first online Clinical Trials Community

Dear Partners and Colleagues,

Greetings from the African Academy of Sciences and hope you are well.

It is my pleasure to invite you to attend the Coalition for African Research and Innovation (CARI) Pharma Working Group’s next in-person meeting on Monday, 28 October 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (exact time to be confirmed).

This convening will take place on the sidelines of the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting, held in a different global city each year to catalyze collaboration to advance innovation for impact. As the meeting comes to the African continent for the first time since 2009, organizers look forward to bringing together more than 1000 African and global scientists, funding partners, and policy and decision makers to discuss scientific priorities and call for even greater investment in science on the continent. In addition to participating in the CARI Pharma Group discussions, you would be welcomed to attend the full Annual Meeting, which will be jointly hosted by the African Union, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, Grand Challenges Canada, the United States Agency for International Development, Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Please look for an invitation with additional details.

I am also pleased to share an update on the activities of the CARI Pharma Working Group. Your support and guidance has been critical to the momentum of the Pharma Working Group’s efforts, which have progressed significantly in recent months. As you may recall, the group’s remit is to create health solutions for Africa by facilitating stronger collaborations between African scientific institutions and the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Of the more than $200 billion available from the private sector for investment in science, technology and innovation, Africa currently attracts less than 5%. The core agenda for this working group is to address gaps in capacity, funding, policy and regulation that discourage biopharma and other private industry groups from investing in R&D in Africa.

As an important step toward this goal, the Pharma Working Group has undertaken the development of aDatabase of Clinical Trials Sites & Capacities in Africa (DACTS). The creation of this database was inspired by recommendations in the Dalberg report on existing clinical research and clinical trial capabilities across Africa, presented to the Pharma Working Group in April 2018. The DACTS project was conceptualized by a partnership that includes the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and biopharma leaders, with strong support from Johnson & Johnson.

  • DACTS Project Objective: To strengthen aspects of clinical and translational sciences capacity in Africa and build on the initial inventory, this platform is expected to lay the groundwork for a consolidated clinical and translational research network in Africa, a consortium that represents the geographical and epidemiological diversity across the continent and which is able to engage external funders, governments, and the private sector to advance a robust clinical and translational enterprise. This would address the perennial challenges of underinvestment, continuity and sustainability of clinical and translational research sites against fluctuating external grants, adopting a business model approach to strengthen management and scientific skills with regard to shared resources, GCLP, data management and informatics, shared protocols, mentoring and leadership, research design and methods, ethical/IRB reviews, and more.
  • End Product: The project focuses on the creation and global adoption of a centralized, open-access database of clinical research site capabilities within the African continent.
  • Current Status & Next Steps: The project is being implemented by the AAS, which just completed a request for proposals to identify global vendors with the capacity to build the database. After rigorous review, Interactive Pharma has been selected as the vendor to lead the technical aspects of the database development. Work withInteractive Pharma will begin in late June with a scoping and kick-off meeting hosted by the AAS in Nairobi.

I hope you share our excitement about the direction of this work and its potential to enable clinical and translational research in Africa, with world class sites and centers of clinical research excellence that have long-term sustainability. We are eager to discuss this initiative with you and seek your input on the future direction of this work at the in-person meeting of the CARI Pharma Working.

We hope you can join us for this meeting as well as a number of important sessions and side events throughout the week that will build momentum and support for science and innovation in Africa.

If you are able to join us in Addis, we would be thrilled if you would also join us for a session of the African Research, Development and Innovation Ecosystem Scientific Track during the Annual Meeting that will be focused on the DACTS initiative and related efforts to strengthen clinical research and trial capabilities across the continent. This session will likely take place on the morning of Tuesday, 29 October and be designed as a working session to share updates and solicit feedback from participants. Planning is currently underway and we will be happy to follow up with more information in the coming weeks.

We ask that you kindly RSVP for the CARI Pharma Working Group Meeting by emailing gcpartners@globalhealthstrategies.com by Friday, 16 August 2019. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. We hope to see you in October.

Best wishes,

Thomas M. Kariuki, PhD
Director of Programmes

African Academy of Sciences
Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA Platform)