Thursday, 26 November 2015

A simple text message can do a lot of difference!

Vaccines are responsible for millions of lives being saved each year. They are responsible for eradication of smallpox, a 74% reduction in childhood deaths from measles over the past decade, and the near eradication of Polio.

Despite these great achievement, there remains an urgent need to reach all children with life-saving vaccines. One in every five children worldwide are not fully protected with the most basic vaccines. As a result, an estimated 1.5M children lose their life to vaccine preventable diseases – one every 20 seconds. One of the biggest operational problem is that even if there is a vaccination drive going in the vicinity, people are largely unaware about it especially in the low economic settings.

According to a research by Columbia University, sending text messages to mobile phones can help increase immunisation rates and reduce the spread of vaccine-preventable infections.

According to Dr. Melissa Stockwell, Associate Professor of Paediatrics and Population Family Health at Columbia University, text reminders can be more effective than traditional communication methods.

According to Stockwell, parents feel that it shows the healthcare providers care for them, even when they are not right in front of them. Traditional form of communication like phone and postcards often don’t work in low income, adolescent and rural population. Sending a text message which has an upper limit of 160 characters is not always easy. Text messages are usually no more than 160 characters long, yet it is essential that texts from doctors’ practices get the tone right; that speak a language that is well understood without being too informal.

According to Dr. Stockwell, the character limit actually ends up being helpful because it forces one to be brief, thus ending up using language that is understandable to the patients and their families.

As evidence continues to build behind the value of sending text reminders, she expects more healthcare professionals to embrace the technology.

Source: VaccinesToday
Read More

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

And it's a wrap, The Merck Fellowship Program

All good things must come to an end eventually, but the next experience awaits!
Carrying this thought in mind, we at Hilleman Labs congratulate the four RTC fellows from MERCK, Ms. Kim Bishop, Ms. Melissa Wooters Mr. Garth Meihoff and Mr. David Peed on successful completion of their three months long fellowship program here at Hilleman Labs, Delhi.
From creating new vaccines/drugs that prevent/treat diseases to addressing key health issues for people in need, Merck is committed to improve health and well-being around the world. The Merck Fellowship for Global Health is one such initiative aimed at fulfilling the global health needs of the underserved. Merck employees who participate in the program are called Richard T. Clark Fellows (RTC Fellows) in honour of retired Chairman and CEO Richard T. Clark and his philosophy of "passion, purpose and commitment to corporate responsibility."
Launched in 2012, the program offers Merck employees opportunities to share their skills and expertise with people around the world. As many as 30 Fellows are selected each year; the expertise of the applicants is matched to the needs of the partner organizations. During the three-month assignments, the Fellows are embedded within a non-profit organization in the field.
The fellowship team which commenced on August 3rd 2015, comprised of a 4 member team from Merck US, which included:
·         Kimberly Bishop
Global Human Health – Tampa, FL, USA
·         Garth Meihoff
Global Human Health – Lake Oswego, OR, USA
·         David Peed
Global Human Health – Charlotte, NC, USA
·         Melissa Wooters
Merck Research Labs – West Point, PA, USA
The fellowship team was at MSD Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories, Delhi, India working on specific projects assigned to them prior to their visit.
A succinct overview of their three months long fellowship program is detailed below:
·         Kimberly Bishop

Ms. Kimberly Bishop works as a Retail Pharmacy Representative in Tampa, FL at Merck US. She is a Consummate Sales Professional with 20+ years of experience in identifying and capturing market opportunities to accelerate expansion, increase revenues and improve profit.
Project: Create a set of organisational guidelines to present the case for vaccine innovation
According to Kim, despite improvements in global vaccine coverage during the past decade, their continuous to be regional and local disparities. With 18.7 M infants still unvaccinated, no one can doubt Kim’s claims.
The primary objective of Kim’s fellowship program was to establish steps to build a health economic model that can be presented to global organisations and procurement agencies to communicate the long term societal rewards of vaccine innovation. The scope of work also included development of guidelines to build advocacy, to facilitate the introduction of innovative vaccine to developing nations.
According to Kim three key components required to build a case for vaccine innovation are
·         Identifying the need
·         Developing appropriate strategy
·         Building effective advocacy
Understanding the disease burden of a specific geographical region is undeniably the primary requirement. This is the first step towards identifying the need. Having a better understanding of a geography’s requirement helps in dealing with the policy makers and governance bodies of the region better and also helps in designing region compatible products, as disease patterns vary considerably with location.
The next component that requires considerable attention would be to develop effective strategies. As per Kim, introducing an ’Advocacy Development Plan’ in each strategic plan is also key in developing an effective strategy. Kim feels it is important to have as much interaction as possible with key policy makers and stakeholders in order to build a rappo. Typically the advocacy begins when the vaccine is at Phase2/3 of development but it should actually start as early as preclinical trails.
·         Melissa Wooter
Ms. Melissa A. Boddicker Wooter is Research Microbiologist at Merck & Co., West Point, PA. She joined Merck in October 2002 and has 18 years of rich experience. She is presently working as Lead conducting all molecular cloning work for the Chlamydia program including identifying vaccine candidates, designing cloning approaches, expression evaluation and optimization of protein expression. She is also developing and designing cloning strategies for multiple Chlamydia and GAS vaccine targets.
Project: Conduct Experiments on an ETEC Vaccine
ETEC is one of a major cause of travellers’ diarrhoea and endemic in underdeveloped countries. With nearly 840M annual cases of ETEC in developing countries it poses high risks. This creates a high demand for an effective vaccine that can help in mitigating the threat posed by ETEC. This led to the development of the HL ETEC Vaccine. Melissa joined the ETEC team at Hilleman Labs as a strategic advisor to the research team.

·         Garth Meihoff
Mr. Garth J. Meihoff is a Senior Account Executive, Merck Vaccines, Portland since 2014. He has 13 years of vaccine and 11 years of pharmaceutical public and private sector sales/marketing experience in broad areas including account management, business strategy and planning, sales management, customer marketing, product and promotion management and field sales.
Project: Conduct a Quantitative Assessment of the Health Impact of IP Vaccines
Garth’s project scope included quantitative examination of health impact due to relative difference in cost of manufacture including intellectual property between vaccines made using conventional methods and a novel method developed at Hilleman Labs. His scopeof work also included development of skills that will aid Hilleman Labs to analyse the cost effectiveness of novel methods, health impact and IP related matters.
Broadly Garth’s project agenda was to research the Meningococcal market and influence of intellectual property on it as well as a detailed cost analysis for vaccine processes. The market research methods employed by him broadly included telephonic and one-on-one interviews. The respondents ranged from vaccine manufacturers, experts, chemical manufacturers, worldwide IP experts to global health organisations.
Garth’s research showed synthetic vaccine manufacturing processes to have above average advantage over conventional methods.
Some notable advantage of synthetic processes over conventional processes would be
·         Reduced facility start-up cost (India: $3M vs. $10M)
·         Manufacturing Advantage
o   Less stringent requirements
o   Decreased Labour
o   Increases Flexibility
o   Reduced QC Issues
·         Greater product stability resulting in fully liquid formulation
·         Greater characterization leading to faster approvals
Although there are a lot of advantage of synthetic vaccine manufacturing over conventional methods, it does possess some weaknesses as well. Majorly the drawbacks are at the manufacturing front like increased processing time, residual chemical safety and trained staff constraints to name a few.
Also lack of a comparator in case of synthetic process could additionally delay approvals.

·         David Peed

Mr. David A. Peed is a Senior Account Executive within US Managed Markets and Policy at Merck. He has 28 years of experience with major job responsibilities. He joined Merck in 1987 as a Professional Hospital Representative. His current position as a Senior Account Manager in Integrated Delivery Systems and Federal Accounts – this position involves formulating and implementing strategic plans for key targeted accounts, leading cross-functional teams to implement the plans, strategy and ensuring profitable access for all Merck products at key integrated health systems.
Project: Explore potential option for long term sustainability
David’s scope of work primarily revolved around conceptualisation of a sustainable model for Hilleman Labs. His reports were developed through extensive literature review and on research regarding for-profit and non-profit organisations focussing on global health. The research effort included interviews with key leaders in the global health marketplace as well as key advisors to Hilleman Labs. The project also included detailed research of many global health company business and finding models like IVI etc.
David Peed additionally focused on how Hilleman Labs should improve their external and internal communication. He also stressed on creating a strategic advocacy approach in addition to effective and innovative external and internal communications. 

We at Hilleman Labs are overwhelmed and thankful to the fellowship team for their invaluable contribution and time. As Mr David mentions in his presentation, every person’s life matters and everyone is important regardless their nationality, religion or race. We hope this knowledge sharing experience armed with our vision would help us in doing our bit for humanity and help us in our endeavour of reshaping healthcare and making it accessible to all. 
Read More

About Me

Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

Designed By D Yellow Elephant