Lilly commits $1mm to World Medical Association to support Innovative Tuberculosis Training Course


DATE: EMBARGOED until 12h Central European Time 14 May 2008

Geneva, 14 May 2008 - Eli Lilly and Company announced today the scaling-up of an existing partnership with the World Medical Association (WMA) by providing a grant of $998,773 to expand training courses for physicians on multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable disease that kills close to two million people every year and infects an estimated nine million more. Of these, nearly 500,000 have multidrug-resistant TB.

The purpose of this online training is to help physicians, both in the public and private sector, to use the latest international guidelines and treatment protocols for MDR-TB care in their daily work. This will allow more physicians around the world to acquire the basic knowledge on standard TB management at a time when there is a resurgence of the epidemic. A new toolkit will also be developed for physicians on how to manage TB in the workplace. This will be produced with the World Economic Forum for use in China and South Africa.

The announcement of the new four-year joint partnership agreement was marked in Geneva today by a signing ceremony between Jacques Tapiero, president of Lilly's intercontinental operations and WMA president Dr. Jon Snaedal. Lilly's key partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Stop TB Partnership, the International Council of Nurses, the World Economic Forum and alongside Geneva-based diplomats and foreign dignitaries, were invited to the ceremony.

Dr. Snaedal said: 'We shall now be making the course more interactive with more case studies and a progressive learning pattern. A TB refresher course is important to get physicians back on track regarding the basic knowledge of standard TB.'

Jacques Tapiero added: 'We applaud WMA's commitment to developing innovative approaches to stemming the MDR-TB global burden. Given adequate healthcare infrastructure and adherence to proper medication regimens, MDR-TB is not only treatable, but indeed curable. This online training course is an important addition to the already existing tools and activities of a larger partnership of 16 public and private organizations worldwide dedicated to fighting MDR-TB.'

With underwriting from Lilly, the WMA over the past year has already developed an online training course for physicians to more effectively diagnose, prevent and treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Clinical guidelines were developed and harmonized with evidence-based material sourced from the WHO, the International Council of Nurses and the International Hospital Federation. The course was tested among physicians in South Africa. The Norwegian Medical Association has adapted the material to a web-based format and will be providing CME credits to those following the course. The German Medical Association assisted on providing managerial support in the conception of the project.
The online course will be expanded to develop a TB refresher course and a training course on MDR-TB training. Training champions in MDR-TB treatment will be created in South Africa, India and China.

The course, already available in English, is being translated into Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian and will be published in handbook and CD form in addition to the online format. MDR-TB is a serious public health threat in many parts of the world, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, mainland China, Southeast Asia and in Central and South America.

The recent identification of extremely virulent TB and the increasing number of MDR-TB cases show that the knowledge and handling of TB treatment is still insufficient. With concrete evidence that incomplete TB treatment is responsible for the occurrence of extremely drug resistant TB, an ethics policy is being planned to look at whether and how patients can be encouraged to complete their treatment regimen and where the autonomy of a patient ends in order to safeguard public health.
Access to the course is free of charge via the WMA website or directly on the education server of the Norwegian Medical Association.