Drug modelling in the heart of Africa

At the end of November 2019, Professor Leon Aarons and Dr Kayode Ogungbenro from the Division of Pharmacy & Optometry, travelled to Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria to deliver a week-long workshop titled an “Introduction to Population Pharmacokinetic Modelling”.

Pharmacokinetics is the study of the time course of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion – key to safe and effective therapeutic management of patients. As an alumnus of OAU, Dr Ogungbenro was thrilled to revisit the University now as a lecturer in a Pharmacy discipline – the subject he once studied there.

The face-to-face workshop stemmed from an online training course launched in August 2019, where professionals were invited to take part in a 10-week online course in Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics. Participants were typically early career researchers from universities, hospitals and generic pharma companies. Of the participants, 28 were selected to attend the further in person training workshop in November.

Over the recent years, Professor Aarons and Dr Ogungbenro have joined a small number of industry and academic pharmacometricians working in partnership with institutions in South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Zambia. The aim of the collaboration is to build clinical pharmacology and pharmacometrics capacity in Africa by introducing the concepts of population pharmacokinetics through series of lectures and hand-on sessions using state-of-the-art, accessible software.

These projects are sponsored by Pharmacometrics Africa, a not-for-profit organisation as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Project partners include CP+ Associates, Switzerland, Makerere University in Uganda and the University of Cape Town, and the University of Manchester.

These investments have already advanced the understanding of dose-exposure-response relationships for several diseases affecting Africans and have provided broader benefit beyond the continent. During 2019, the group expanded their country reach to Rwanda and are planning an event in Ghana in early 2020.