Press release

Dr Margaret Chan delivers MHRA annual lecture

Medicines regulators should continue to work together to support the development of vaccines for Zika virus

Medicines regulators globally should continue to work together to deal with emerging health emergencies, Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation said at the 11th Annual lecture organised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in London tonight (01 March) where there was a full house.

Dr Chan recognised the work done by regulators in reacting to the Ebola outbreak in fast tracking clinical trials for vaccines which she said had left the world better prepared for further health emergencies

In the lecture, ‘From health care products to trust and reliance: the expanded role of regulatory authorities in an era of global health perils’, Dr Chan spoke of the challenges faced by regulators across the world particularly in dealing with emerging health emergencies such as the Ebola and Zika viruses and how working together they assist those developing vaccines to protect public health.

Dr Chan said:

All of this work leaves the world better prepared for the next Ebola outbreak

The collaborative mechanisms that brought scientists, national health officials, pharmaceutical companies, and regulatory authorities together during the Ebola response establish pathways that can expedite product development during other health emergencies.

New vaccines can be breakthroughs for global health and Dr Chan praised the work of the UK’s National Institute of Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) in the development of standards to support control of the Ebola virus and its current joint working with WHO to assist also with the global Zika virus response.

Dr Chan congratulated the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency on the success of its Early Access to Medicines Scheme which aims to give patients with life- threatening or seriously debilitating conditions access to medicines that do not yet have a marketing authorisation where there is a clear unmet medical need.

She also congratulated the agency on the enforcement work in dealing with websites selling medicines illegally.

The agency’s Chief Executive, Ian Hudson, said:

Dr Chan gave a fascinating insight into the challenges faced by regulators in dealing with rapidly developing issues in world health,

In particular she showed how working together we can meet those challenges and facilitate the delivery of life-saving treatments that are needed.

Dr Chan said:

It was a pleasure to share the challenges faced by regulators whose work on a daily basis in protecting public health largely goes unnoticed.

Regulators across the world have shown they can react well when a health emergency develops and can work together effectively to help facilitate the development of new treatments.

Background

  1. In 1994, Dr Chan was appointed Director of Health of Hong Kong. In her nine-year tenure as director, she launched new services to prevent the spread of disease and promote better health. She also introduced new initiatives to improve communicable disease surveillance and response, enhance training for public health professionals, and establish better local and international collaboration.

  2. Dr Chan was elected to the post of Director-General on 9 November 2006. The Assembly appointed Dr Chan for a second five-year term at its sixty-fifth session in May 2012.

  3. Read the speech in full

  4. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe. All our work is underpinned by robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits justify any risks. MHRA is a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which also includes the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). MHRA is an executive agency of the Department of Health.

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