The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in partnership with the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), is launching a new fellowship opportunity that will help address economic gaps in medicines quality research.

USP, a global health organization that works with experts in science and health to develop independent, transparent standards for quality in medicines and other health products, will be sponsoring a fellow hosted at UNC through the Fellowship in Quality of Medical Products. The program will offer the opportunity for a fellow to work with leading experts in the field of economics of medicines quality research, filling in critical evidence gaps. Fellows will gain real-world training experience working side-by-side with experts in the field of medicines quality. Each fellow will be co-mentored by a team of experts at UNC and USP, offering a diverse and rich mentorship experience.

The fellowship program was developed by the USP Quality Institute at the heels of recent evidence published by the WHO which found that 10 percent of medicine worldwide are of substandard or falsified quality (https://www.who.int/medicines/regulation/ssffc/publications/se-study-sf/en/). UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy faculty member Dr. Sachiko Ozawa and her team conducted a recent meta-analysis which corroborated that 13.6 percent of medicines in low- and middle-income countries are of poor quality (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2696509). The same study also found that the estimated economic impact ranged widely from $10 billion to $200 billion, with large gaps in economic evidence of medicine quality.

Sachiko Ozawa, Ph.D., M.H.S.

“Better understanding how costs, pricing, and procurement could affect medicine quality can help guide public policy and allocation of resources to help combat substandard and falsified medicines” explains Dr. Ozawa, who specializes in modeling the economic impact of substandard and falsified medicines, antimicrobial resistance and vaccinations. She will be supporting UNC fellows through this program.

“Governments and health policy makers around the world need more data about the benefits of quality medicine to make strategic decisions about where to invest scarce resources,” said Phil Nguyen, Director of the USP Quality Institute. “Research into the economic impact of poor-quality medicines will provide much needed data that will enable evidence-based policy decisions that can help increase the availability of quality medicines everywhere.”

Fellows will propose a research project that contributes toward building evidence on the importance of improving medicine quality related to the issues of cost, pricing, and procuring for quality. They may focus on the economics of medicine quality in global or domestic contexts. Fellows will work with a cross-disciplinary team of pharmacists, health economists, public health specialists, and medicine quality experts. Research projects could include, but are not limited to: 1) investigating the cost to stakeholders of substandard and falsified medicines on the market, 2) impact of donor transitions on procurement and medicine quality, 3) the costs and benefits of prequalification for manufacturers in ensuring medicine quality, 4) optimal cost or pricing of medicines to maximize the value of quality medicines, or 5) the role of online pharmacies and their impact on SF medicines within the market.

Further information of the application including the RFA and templates are on the Global Health Economics for Pharmacy website (https://pharmacy.unc.edu/global-health-economics-pharmacy/).

Qualified applicants with advanced degrees (e.g., PharmD, PhD, MPH, MS, MD) interested in receiving mentorship and training, and conducting research on medicine quality can apply through the UNC HR website or contact Dr. Sachiko Ozawa for more information.

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