Insights from Global Panel on the Emerging Crisis in Infectious Disease

Recently, The Pfizer Journal(R) convened a panel of international experts to discuss the emerging crisis in infectious disease. The panel consisted of key thought leaders from all aspects of the infectious disease, including researchers, physicians, economists, technology specialists, pharmaceutical executives and statisticians, each of whom represented their own cause and presented their expertise on this issue of growing importance. Entitled Emerging Crisis in Infectious Disease: Challenges for the 21st Century, this issue of The Pfizer Journal was developed based on the roundtable discussion and was first made available at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) meeting in Washington, D.C.

With the increase in global travel and emigration from developing to developed countries, the number of cases of infectious disease has continued to rise around the world. From outbreaks of SARS and Avian flu to MRSA during the past year, the threat of and treatment challenges for infectious diseases have continued to grow. Over the past few decades, scientists around the globe have been working tirelessly to identify, contain and treat infectious diseases, but have often faced additional challenges in the battle to find cures.

Infectious diseases pose a threat to society that is often overlooked and misunderstood until an outbreak occurs. Over the past few decades, scientists and researchers have been able to identify causative agents that have inflicted millions with HIV, TB and MRSA, enabling them to develop new therapies to treat these emerging diseases. However, more research needs to be conducted in order to continue fighting the ongoing battle with these and other infectious diseases.

Infectious diseases differ from other diseases because they impact the lives of entire communities as compared to diseases that affect the individual. For example, if a person has hypertension and they decide not to treat their hypertension, that only has implications for that individual or for their immediate family, said Dana P. Goldman, PhD, chair in Health Economics and Director of the Health Economics Program at RAND Corporation. On the other hand, if someone gets an infectious disease and they don't treat it, they can affect the entire community and cause an outbreak or an epidemic as a consequence of not taking action to avoid those diseases. It's worth it more to society than it is to the individual to treat that disease.

Participants in the panel included:

· Patrice Courvalin, MD, FRCP Institut Pasteur, France

· Michael W. Dunne, MD, Pfizer, Inc.

· Dana P. Goldman, RAND Corporation, David Geffen School of Medicine and School of Public Health University of California at Los Angeles

· Christopher C. Hentschel, PhD, Medicines for Malaria Venture Geneva, Switzerland

· Keiichi Hiramatsu, MD, PhD, Juntendo University, Tokyo Japan

· Keith Klugman, MBBCh, PhD, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

· Shaheen Mehtar, MD, MBBS, FRCPath Tygerberg Hospital Stellenbosch University, South Africa

· Donald A. Norman, PhD, Nielson Norman Group; Northwestern University

· Richard Wenzel, MD International Society for Infectious Diseases Professor; Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

· John P Woodhall, PhD, ProMED-mail, Investigation of Emerging Infectious Diseases Department of Medical Biochemistry Institute for Biomedical Sciences Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

During this two-day summit, the panel discussed various aspects of infectious diseases, including:

· Promise of the Antibiotic Era The rise of new infections and the resurgence of old infections that are resistant to current treatments

· A Call for Resistance Fighters The growing need for additional R&D for new treatments

· Predicting the New Outbreak The need for global surveillance to identify emerging diseases and to help mange crises (i.e., SARS outbreaks, flu epidemics, TB, etc.)

· How People View the Invisible Threat of Microbes Educating the public on their risk of contracting exotic new diseases and ways to prevent the spread of infection

· Staying Ahead in the Germ Wars Focus on advances in biomolecular discoveries for the identification and treatment of infectious disease.

Source: Pfizer