Philip Ward, European Editor
Boosting the global presence of the International Federation of Associations of Pharmaceutical Physicians (IFAPP) is a key priority for its new president, Professor Gerfried Nell, general manager of NPC Nell Pharma Connect, the medical and regulatory consulting firm based in Vienna, Austria.
IFAPP currently has 7000 members in 30 countries, 18 of which are in Europe. During his two-year term, Nell hopes to persuade several emerging nations to join IFAPP, including China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand in Asia, as well as Poland, Bulgaria, and Russia in Europe.
“The main obstacle is a lack of awareness about pharmaceutical medicine,” he said after his appointment at the 15th International Conference on Pharmaceutical Medicine (ICPM), held in Amsterdam in September. “The first step is to establish a national association in these countries, and we can assist the native physicians in this ongoing process.”
The purpose of IFAPP is to develop pharmaceutical medicine, largely by setting standards and granting accreditation to courses. The Drug Information Association, on the other hand, has a more regulatory focus.
In addition to signing up new members, Nell wants more countries to recognize pharmaceutical medicine, which he defines as the science of drug development, from the phase of drug discovery until application to the patient and product registration, as well as covering medical aspects during the whole lifecycle of a drug. Currently, only Argentina, Mexico, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK regard it as a specialty in its own right.
He concedes that IFAPP faces major challenges over the next decade in terms of “the six Vs”- value, visibility, viability, validity, versatility, and volume. To address these issues, a global strategy working party was set up in June 2007. Its chair is Dr. Sander Becker from Rose Bay North, Australia.
Nell and his fellow committee members are also considering widening IFAPP accreditation to clinical investigators in the future, although this idea is only in the early discussion stages.
ICPM 2008 was organized by the NVFG, the Dutch association of pharmaceutical medicine, with input from IFAPP, the umbrella organization. There were around 250 attendees at the four-day congress, including speakers and moderators but not exhibitors. Founded in 1975, IFAPP also organizes a European Conference, which will be held next in London on January, 30 2009. The central theme will be quality issues in clinical research.
The next ICPM will take place in Singapore from November 7-9, 2010. Among the areas of interest will be drug development within cross-cultural environments, adaptive clinical development, outsourcing strategies and strategic alliances, and the future of life sciences in the East and West, according to Dr. Jean-Paul Deslypere, chairman of the program committee and president of Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians.
“Singapore has chosen the biomedical industry to be its fourth economic pillar, and has worked hard to be the hub of biomedical research in Asia. It is therefore fitting that the 16th ICPM meeting will be held in the place that has rapidly developed core capabilities, from drug discovery to the clinical applications of these discoveries,” he noted.