Join the MedsWatch crowd

We’re looking for researchers to join the team in Indonesia and the UK

“Substandard and falsified medicines are a growing problem….” Most reports on the subject start with something like that, before going on to tell us that fake and crap medicines damage health, waste money, and undermine confidence in health systems. But ARE they a growing problem? We actually don’t know, because no-one has been measuring medicine quality in a systematic way over time. DO they damage health and waste money? Yes, obviously, but how much, we’ve no idea, because no-one has been measuring or even estimating impact systematically at a national level .

We’re going to try to do exactly those things, in Indonesia, and we’re looking for people to help us, in Indonesia and the UK. The work on prevalence of poor quality medicines will be based in Indonesia; it will be led by Universitas Pancasila, under Yusi Anggriani and Elizabeth Pisani. Though the health and economic impact measures will be applied to Indonesian data in collaboration with institutional partners in Indonesia, methods development for these parts of the work will be based at Imperial College in the UK, and will be led by Kalipso Chalkidou and Adrian Gheorghe. Imperial is already hiring a research assistant for a London-based post; at UP, in Jakarta, we’ll be hiring research assistants, data managers, engagement managers and others in September.

For administrative reasons, the Imperial job description is quite generic. To give a bit more background, here’s what we’ll be trying to do over the course of what we expect to be a three year project:

  1. Bring together data from a wide variety of instructional sources relevant to medicines available to Indonesian patients  (data regarding procurement, market, regulation, reimbursement, trade etc.)
  2. Analyse the data using a flagging system which helps indicate which products are most at risk of being falsified or substandard, and develop a sentinel surveillance framework.
  3. Conduct sentinel surveillance of medicines in 9 districts across Indonesia, and test the selected medicines to ascertain their quality.
  4. Combine the results with market and other data to develop national estimates of the prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines.
  5. Combine the results with reimbursement, burden of disease and other data to develop national estimates the health impact of substandard and falsified medicines.
  6. Combine the results with market, procurement and other data to develop national estimates the economic impact of substandard and falsified medicines.

Throughout this work, we’ll be working in consultation with the national medicine regulator and people from Indonesian institutions and companies with an influence on policies that affect the quality of medicines. We also hope to engage with the World Health Organization Member State Mechanism on falsified and substandard medical products, which is currently working to improve risk-based post market surveillance for poor quality medicines.

If you have good quantitative data skills, are not afraid of hard work, and are interested in medicine quality, public health surveillance, incentives in pharma procurement and/or the political economy of decision-making in health, we want to hear from you. If you speak Indonesian and have any inside knowledge of the pharma industry or medicine markets, and/or know your way around public procurement/ JKN policies and BPJS data, we are even more keen hear from you (including if you are based in the UK). You won’t get rich working with us, but you will get to work (hard!) with a bunch of curious people from different backgrounds who try to keep research grounded and useful, and who believe that learning new stuff should be fun.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this note is entirely informal, and aims only to try to make sure that the people who are likely to be most interested by the work know about it. It has no binding influence on Imperial’s recruitment process. To apply for the Imperial research assistant post, please take note of the requirements in the formal job ad, including full pdf job description. These over-ride the extra information given in this note. The deadline for applications is August 13th. End of disclaimer.

Untuk yang di Indonesia: kalau tertarik gabung sama tim kami di Universitas Pancasila (mulai September/Oktober 2020), tolong hubungi info@medswatch.org dengan CV. Nanti, kalau jobdes yang resmi sudah keluar, kami akan kontak kembali.

Author: Elizabeth Pisani

Dr. Elizabeth Pisani is the convenor of the MedsWatch group. She’s an epidemiologist by training and a political economist by persuasion, and is most interested in the messy places where biomedical evidence clashes with politics, money and culture.

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