APHA’s National Public Health Week: A Review of Events

APHA’s National Public Health Week was chock-full of fun and educational public health events! If you weren’t able to tune in or attend these events in person, don’t fret! Many were recorded for future visits. Check out this outline of some of the week’s big events below:

  • Monday April 1st: Theme – Healthy Communities
    • Keynote address from reproductive justice expert Joia Crear-Perry who spoke of the importance of grassroots organizing to improve the health of communities. Panelists with other areas of expertise aligned with the different daily themes of the week were also included. Check out the recorded forum here.
  • Tuesday April 2nd: Theme – Violence Prevention
    • APHA pushed out a message regarding supporting universal background checks on gun sales. You can sign the action alert for your state here.
    • APHA’s Mighty Fine discussed violence prevention for #NPHW in a new #HealthiestCities podcast: https://bit.ly/2FMSQtW
  • Wednesday April 3rd: Theme – Rural Health
    • Global #NPHW Twitter chat: Look for #NPHWChat on twitter to see what was discussed! Details about the chat here.
    • There was a Q&A with CDC Director Robert Redfield on public health in 2019. Read the full interview here.
    • There was also a blog from  All of Us Research that discusses how precision medicine can help with health disparities in rural communities: https://bit.ly/2FZKu3l
  • Thursday April 4th: Theme – Technology and Public Health
    • APHA hosted a @GetReady Photo contest for animal lovers. See details here: http://bit.ly/GerReady2019Contest
    • National Public Health Week Student Day: early and mid level career public health professionals talked about how they transitioned from student life to public health workers. See the panelists here (this year’s talk has not been posted yet, but check back soon!)
  • Friday April 5th: Theme – Climate Change
    • APHA pushed out a message about climate change and posted a link where you can #SpeakForHealth and alert members of Congress in your state about your interest and passion to protect the public’s health from climate change. See link here: http://bit.ly/2HwUQty
    • APHA’s Surili Patel discusses the important work of APHA and others to address the health threats of climate change. https://bit.ly/2VqVjkj #NPHW#ClimateChangesHealth
  • Saturday & Sunday April 6th and 7th: Theme – Global Health

These were just a few highlights from the busy week! So much more occurred throughout the seven days. What did you do to celebrate this year’s National Public Health Week? Let us know what you did to celebrate this year’s National Public Health Week for a chance to be featured in our blog or quarterly newsletter. Send us an email at ihsection.communications@gmail.com.

If you didn’t join in on the festivities this year, be sure to tune in next year! If you’re interested in hosting an event for next year, check out this timeline to help with the planning process here.

Repurposing Medications: Reimagining Treatment Options

Last month around the Chinese New Year holiday, a prominent Chinese scientist from Guangzhou Medical University made an announcement that stirred controversy both domestically and internationally while also highlighting a route to combat ailments that global academia and pharmaceutical industries have been attracted to for years. The scientist revealed that his team had been injecting patients with a malaria-causing parasite in order to cure a range of cancers – with two patients seeming to have no cancer cells remaining at the site of tumor and five additional patients having no disease progression out of ten total patients receiving this malarial therapy for at least a year. Although this type of treatment has been attempted in the past in an attempt to combat HIV in the 1990s, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health governing bodies determined that there was insufficient pre-clinical data to justify human trials during this time period. The controversy revolving around this announcement encompasses the aforementioned determination by CDC, the release of trial results before being published in a peer-reviewed journal, and, most importantly, the possibility of creating a malaria public health emergency for a country due to eradicate the communicable disease by 2020. Although the scientist who underwent this study clearly abdicated internationally conferred health principles, this avenue of repurposing – repositioning, re-profiling, re-tasking, etc – medications and therapy is becoming more appealing to those invested in novel treatment options for both established and emerging diseases.

Throughout the development lifecycle of new chemical entity (NCE), the process for regulatory approval could span over ten to fifteen years with an associated cost of over 2 billion dollars. This has led to an average of only 20 to 30 NCEs being approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) each year. However, through repurposing medications, the development span can be cut to five to eight years at approximately 60% of the total NCE cost – in addition to higher approval rates from regulatory agencies. This repurposing process, as shown by the statistics, is enormously appealing for pharmaceutical companies/investors, but also provides targeted therapy for patient’s disease states at a theoretically lower price than an NCE. Even for rare genetic diseases, repurposing has become common due to only 400 medications being on the market to treat over 7000 genetic conditions. Repurposing is accomplished through the theory of translational research which takes a look at basic scientific discoveries and determining how a medication can be made to match this discovery – for example, examining the molecular pathway of diabetes and then matching it with a chemical entity that has an effect within the pathway like glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). The known chemical entities are commonly stored in giant databases within academia and the industry. Through big-data analytics, advanced modeling, and high throughput screening techniques, these chemical entities can then be extracted from the databases and determined if it has a possible role in a certain molecular pathway.

This method of establishing novel treatment options ought to be utilized more frequently and effectively, though there are medications over the years that have undergone this type of approval. The following are examples of already approved medications and others undergoing clinical trials:

Approved Repurposed Medications:

  1. Thalidomide, which was originally developed as a racemic mixture of enantiomers for the treatment of morning sickness but found to be teratogenic due to the effect of the (S)-isomer, was later successfully developed by Celgene as a single (R)-isomer product for the treatment of leprosy and multiple myeloma.
  2. Viagra (Pfizer’s sildenafil) was a drug that initially failed as an angina treatment in clinical studies; however, during these trials, its effect on erectile dysfunction was noted and then later approved for this indication.
  3. Celebrex, commonly used in osteoarthritis, works by inhibiting COX-2 receptors. Recently it has been shown that for patients that previously had colon cancer, taking this agent can reduce the risk of additional polyp formation without negative gastrointestinal effects associated with existing treatments.
  4. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which is an acne medication, when combined with traditional chemotherapy, results in complete remission of acute promyelocytic leukemia in 90% of treated patients.
  5. Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy medication, treats metastatic breast cancers, or those that have spread to other parts of the body, in both women and men, and it was originally approved in 1977. Thirty years later, researchers discovered that it also helps people with bipolar disorder by blocking the enzyme PKC, which goes into overdrive during the manic phase of the disorder.
  6. Raloxifene was initially developed to treat osteoporosis, but has since been shown to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women in 2007.
  7. Zidovudine (AZT) was initially developed to treat various types of cancer, but was determined to be ineffective. However, it was repurposed into the first approved HIV/AIDs medications in 1987 and has had a tremendous impact on the progression of the autoimmune disorder.

Repurposed Medications Undergoing Clinical Trials:

  1. The lipid soluble simvastatin is currently undergoing a trial in the UK to assess the efficacy of reducing the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The statin drug class is thought to prevent this ailment through its pleiotropic effects including reducing inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, reducing the formation of sticky bundles of alpha-synuclein, and increasing the production of neurotrophic factors. The results are expected to be released in 2020.
  2. Purdue University received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to discover the effectiveness of Ebselen, a chemical entity, against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and auranofin, which is FDA-approved for the treatment of unresponsive rheumatoid arthritis, against Clostridium difficile.
  3. Metformin, a first line agent for many diabetics, has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in diabetes patients and is being investigated as a treatment for cancer in many different clinical trials

Although this is certainly not an exhaustible list of the impacts repurposing has had on healthcare, the majority of this repurposing stems from serendipitous observations rather than targeted interventions. Through these unanticipated occurrences, a range of disease states can now be more effectively treated ranging from communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS to mental health ailments including bipolar disorder and Parkinson’s disease to non-communicable diseases. As the rising cost of healthcare continues to devastate humanity and lead to health inequalities, heads of governments, pharmaceutical industries, academia, and nonprofits need to commit themselves into investing their time and resources into this repurposing method. The targeted repurposing interventions are more vital and should be devoted to in order to expand options for health disorders rather than the unexpected observed effects. The financial and health outcomes will lead to novel treatment options accessible to a majority of the world which will allow health care professionals to properly accompany their patients through their disease state.

It’s National Public Health Week!

From the National Public Health Week Website: http://www.nphw.org/

We hope you’ll take advantage of all National Public Health Week 2019 has to offer as we celebrate public health and highlight key issues. During these seven days of inspiring events, conversations and celebrations nationwide, don’t miss:

  • Our annual Twitter chat, a conversation with public health leaders from around the country. Mark your calendar for April 3, and don’t forget to RSVP.
  • The NPHW Forum on April 1 featuring grassroots organizers sharing how they’ve activated their communities to improve health right where they live. You can register to attend in person or watch the event via webcast.
  • NPHW’s Student Day discussion on April 4, when public health professionals will share tips on how to break into the field. You can join us in D.C. or watch the webcast to ask questions about getting that first job out of school.
  • Our Shareables page featuring images you can post on social media and NPHW logos to help you spread the word about NPHW 2019.
  • NPHW events in your community, from fundraising fitness walks to health fairs to educational workshops. You can search by state on our Events page.

Our fact sheets are available year-round on the NPHW website so we can keep the momentum and learning going. Learn more about this year’s daily themes and how you can be part of the movement for science, action and health.

Why do we celebrate National Public Health Week? APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin explains that perfectly in his NPHW 2019 Welcome Letter.

Read the inaugural issue of the IH Section’s Climate Change and Health Newsletter!

The IH CC&H Working Group is pleased to share our first newsletter.

We plan to publish every other month and will highlight cutting edge best health practices in climate change.  It will also spotlight our IH members engaged in adaptation and mitigation practices with links to internationally focused resources.  The IHCC&WG newsletter will update readers on our progress on the country specific inventory of programs of NGOs, governments and donors engaged in climate change and health adaptation in developing countries.

Please take a few moments and fill out our survey to help us better disseminate information regarding climate change: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfp-FZEi0DRU44PLD0ukLF2DxJbj5IwfKXYG6pY15kq5HCubg/viewform.

For additional information contact the IH CC&H WG at ihsection.cch@gmail.com

Kaiser Family Foundation releases budget summary analyzing global health-related funding in FY20 budget request

KFF released a budget summary analyzing global health-related funding contained in the FY20 budget request. The analysis includes a table that compares U.S. global health funding in the FY20 request to the FY19 request and enacted levels. It will be updated as more information becomes available.

https://http://www.kff.org/news-summary/white-house-releases-fy20-budget-request/