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PRESS RELEASE: New Nonprofit Seeks to Create Better Access to Quality, Affordable Medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, (September 24, 2020) – Today marks the official launch of Med Aditus International, Inc., a nonprofit seeking to make quality, life-saving medicines available at affordable prices to patients in sub-Saharan Africa.

Headquartered in the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Med Aditus was founded by Dhiren R. Thakker, Ph.D., former Interim Dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, as the latest chapter of his illustrious and diverse career.

“After having served at the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Glaxo, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over my 45-year career, I want to spend the rest of my life serving those among us who can benefit from my life experiences,” said Thakker. “Hence, I have launched Med Aditus, which means ‘access to medicines,’ with a mission to improve access to quality and affordable medicines in sub-Saharan Africa, where the need is most acute.”

Med Aditus’ vision to address these unmet needs is multifaceted. Med Aditus will establish a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in a strategic sub-Saharan African country to produce medicines that will meet the most stringent global quality standards. It will also work to create a secure regional supply chain of quality-assured, affordable medicines. To that end, Med Aditus will deploy state-of-the-art blockchain technology, employing distributed computing advanced cryptography to track and assure quality of information across many parties through an immutable data record with need-to-know access that protects privacy and sensitive information.

Additionally, Med Aditus aims to work closely with local enterprises and academic institutions to establish next-generation education, training, and certification programs to help develop and sustain a world-class pharmaceutical workforce in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Our vision is to create a sustainable enterprise that contributes to a lasting solution to the acute need for life-saving medicines in the region where we serve,” said Thakker. “This requires us to be proactive and progressive, and to become a key player in training Africa’s future pharmaceutical workforce, which will be critical to meet the needs of the industry in the region.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between 2013 and 2017, 42 percent of all counterfeit drugs were found in Africa. This startling statistic can be attributed in part to the fact that “constrained access to quality, safe and effective medical products creates a vacuum that is too often filled by substandard and falsified products.” {WHO’s Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for substandard and falsified medical products report.

Med Aditus will also join the fight against counterfeit and substandard drugs, a leading cause of preventable deaths that has far-reaching impact on the socio-economic aspects of sub-Saharan African lives. Up to 60 percent of antimalarials circulating in sub- Saharan Africa could be forged and may contribute to more than 160,000 deaths in the region every year.

“Access to quality and affordable medicine should not be a privilege, but a right for everyone. The expansion of Med Aditus into sub-Saharan Africa couldn’t be coming in at a more timely time, as many countries seek to strengthen their national pharmaceutical systems,” said Betty Tushabe, Country Director, IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rwanda.  “I am excited about the pivotal and transformational role that Med Aditus is going to play, working side by side with national pharmaceutical systems, bringing in much-needed complementary innovation and research, geared at providing and ensuring access to affordable and quality medicines for all on the sub-Saharan region.”

Thakker has assembled a team that embodies the company’s core values of excellence, integrity, transparency, diversity, and service to society. Med Aditus’ diverse Board of Directors comprises accomplished leaders in global health, education, innovation, and the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Pape Gaye, M.B.A, President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of IntraHealth International, serves as Board Chair. Gaye continues to serve IntraHealth as an advisor and provides technical assistance to their Francophone West Africa Program on Family Planning and Reproductive Health. He is also setting up a new regional NGO in Senegal focused on strengthening the capacity of local NGOs working in Global Health.
  • Bill Charman, Ph.D., is the Dean Emeritus and Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor at Monash University Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Charman is an accomplished scientist and leader in drug discovery and delivery fields, such as neglected diseases like Malaria. He serves on scientific advisory boards and corporate boards in the pharma and biotech industry and has served as an advisor and consultant to Wellcome Trust, Medicines for Malaria Venture, and the WHO.
  • Mark Crowell is the President and Co-Founder of Arkane Innovation and a prominent global figure in the innovation and entrepreneurship space. Crowell is also a veteran of academic technology transfer and has helped launch more than 135 start-up companies and numerous products and services from six academic institutions with global reputation.
  • Ronald P. Strauss, D.M.D., Ph.D., is the Executive Vice Provost at UNC-Chapel Hill, and served as UNC’s Chief International Officer (CIO) for 10 years. As CIO, Strauss forged strategic partnerships in all continents, enhanced international research collaborations for faculty, and promoted global experiences for students. He has published extensively on social impacts of chronic health problems, including HIV/AIDS.
  • Brenda Brown Schoonover is the former U.S. Ambassador to Togo in West Africa. Prior to that, Schoonover served as a Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, where she also served as Charge d’Affaires ad interim (Acting Ambassador). She has had diplomatic assignments in Belgium, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Tunisia and Washington, D.C., .

“I am honored and delighted to join the board as chairman. The vision of Med Aditus to make quality medicine widely available domestically is a critical part of the new Global Health paradigm shift toward more localization,” said Pape Gaye, chairman of Med Aditus’ Board of Directors. “I look forward to leveraging my many years as President and CEO of IntraHealth and my track record in Africa to advance the mission of Med Aditus.”

A unique feature that allows Med Aditus to be at the forefront of this “new frontier” in global health is its extensive Volunteer Network, a group of esteemed individuals who have recognized the organization’s vital vision and have agreed to commit their time, expertise, and connections to assist Med Aditus in accomplishing its mission.

“As always, Dr. Dhiren Thakker has assembled a diverse group of professionals ranging from global healthcare leaders, entrepreneurs, and graduate students who are ready to follow his experienced leadership in this important venture,” said Julie Barnes-Weise, executive director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Alliance Accelerator (GHIAA). “I am happy to add my support to help Med Aditus reach its ambitious and vital goals.”

Med Aditus International, Inc. is a North Carolina, United States, nonprofit corporation; It is tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(3).

For interviews or additional information about Med Aditus, please contact Chiara Canzi, Chief Communications Officer, at [email protected] and 434-249-5930.