11 September 1956 – 12 August 2023
The ISoP Executive Committee has learnt with sadness the death of Noël Wathion, the former Deputy Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), on 12 August 2023.
The Executive Committee specifically acknowledges his role in establishing, maintaining, and progressing pharmacovigilance in the European Union in managerial functions he held at the EMA from 1996 to 2013 as well as his commitment to patient safety throughout his career at the EMA until his retirement in 2021.
As detailed in EMA’s announcement, Noël Wathion retired after an exceptional career of service to public health in the EU, lasting over 30 years, during which he occupied many different roles and responsibilities. A pharmacist by training, he joined the EMA in 1996 and served the EMA over more than 30 years in various outstanding and influential positions. He was passionate about public health, and he was deeply committed to the European idea. He will be remembered as a champion of transparency and public engagement.
Many interested in the safety of medicines learned a lot from him and the interactions with him over the years. He contributed immensely to pharmacovigilance, and so all colleagues and friends must thank him for this.
Our profound sympathies and condolences go to Noël Wathion’s family and friends.
The ISoP Executive Committee
In memory of Professor Sir Michael Rawlins (1941-2023)
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, an honorary member of ISoP and an icon of drug safety, passed away on 1st of January 2023. Sir Michael was a noted clinical pharmacologist; former Chair of the UK Committee on Safety of Medicines and founder of NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). He was knighted in 1999 for his work to protect people from the side effects of medicines and his many other contributions to clinical pharmacology. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 2017 for his services in health care, innovations, and drug regulation.
As an example of his contribution to pharmacovigilance, many ISoP members may know of traditional Type A and Type B adverse drug reaction classifications, also known as the Rawlins-Thompson classification, as well as several seminal publications which form the basis of the current approach to pharmacovigilance. Michael Rawlins’ work is a testament to his fundamental appreciation of ADRs, signal detection and benefit-risk assessment.
We send our sincerest condolences to Sir Michael’s family and friends.
In memory of Sten Olsson (21.01.1950 – 21.04.2022)
Born into a family of farmers in southern Sweden, Sten moved north in the 1970s to study pharmacy. He obtained a Master of Science in pharmacy from Uppsala University in 1974. A pursuit for a doctorate in toxicology was interrupted in 1978 by an opportunity to manage a database of reports of adverse drug reactions for the newly created WHO Program of International Drug Monitoring (PIDM). Sten dedicated this life to building relationships throughout the world and growing the PIDM. Also, Sten was integral to shaping the Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) into an institution known for developing methodologies to identify safety concerns and for capacity building in pharmacovigilance; he was the author of one of UMC’s first published signals in the BMJ, and he was responsible for the creation of UMC’s popular training courses.
Sten’s dedication to global pharmacovigilance is further evidenced in his work outside of the UMC. He served as president of “Pharmacists Without Borders” in Sweden from 2006-2016 and president of the International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP) from 2016-2019. During his presidency, Sten transformed ISoP into a truly “international” society, as its total membership increased by 75% with representation from an additional 27 countries. His dedication to pharmacovigilance was evident in his continued work with PROFORMA and as chair of our last ISoP annual meeting in Oman.
All of the great achievements aside, Sten will undoubtedly be most remembered for the person that he was. Warm, kind, and humble are several adjectives that have been shared by many in their remembrances of Sten. His passion and enthusiasm for pharmacovigilance were infectious, and he touched the lives of so many involved in our field. One of our very best and brightest, who will live on in the hearts and the work of those of us lucky enough to have known him.
Article in Uppsala Reports (June 2022) Remembering Sten Olsson.
Jean-Christophe Delumeau (Singapore)
Sten played a unique role in global pharmacovigilance, devoting most of his professional life to the WHO programme for international Drug monitoring. While he was the president of ISoP, we work together more closely than ever before. I learnt a lot from his experience of public health issues and was always able to rely upon his wisdom and understanding of diversity. More, he became a most cherished friend, why I am feeling so sad today. Sten will be forever missed but we will keep alive the memory of his life among us.
Mayada Alkhakany (Germany)
To a man of humanity
To a man of moral
To a man of science
To a man of kindness
To a man of sweetheart
Sten Olsson, you left behind you a meaningful legacy full of science, ethics and love.
You were a good friend, mentor and a believer in the capabilities of many people including me. You engraved a nice memory in the hearts and minds of everyone who worked with you.
We will miss you a lot.
Till we meet again, Rest In Peace now. You are in a better place.
Thamer Alshammary (Saudi Arabia)
Sten does not impact me only; he influenced many people and helped many people that I know and don’t know. Sten always supports others by guiding them and guiding countries, especially those who need safe use of medicine. Also, he is so humble and talks with anyone and everyone who approach him. Sten is a leader, mentor, friend, and man of honor. He supported everything that we do in the Middle East and all countries within the Middle East. He supports having the annual meeting in the Middle East, and we were honored to have him as the head of the scientific committee. All words won’t be enough to express my feelings about losing a person like Sten. Sten, I will miss talking to you, working with you, and learning from you.
Grace Wangge (Indonesia), on Behalf of ISoP Indonesia Chapter
It is with heavy heart we learn about the passing of Sten Olsson. Sten played an important role in the formation of the ISOP Indonesia Chapter. Our meeting with Sten in Bangkok in 2017, had encouraged us to make the ISOP Indonesia Chapter happen and to play an active role in the advancement of Pharmacovigilance in the region. The Indonesian Chapter Whatsapp Group even had this picture as a Profile Picture to commemorate the event.
We send our prayers and convey our condolences to ISoP and his bereaved families.
May he rest in peace, and we will continue to stay vigilant.
Omar Aimer (Canada)
I am so shocked to hear of such a sudden loss. My most heartfelt condolences to Sten’s family, friends, loved ones and to the whole ISoP community.
Luis Alesso (Argentina)
It is hard to believe that my friend – everyone’s friend – Sten Olsson, has passed away. His work and entire life were devoted to pharmacovigilance, at the UMC, WHO, ISoP, tirelessly, passionately. It could say that he was and worked in every country in the world. But above all, he was an excellent person. I want to pay tribute to his memory.
Alex Dodoo (Ghana)
Sten’s love of humanity is unparalleled. He single-handedly pulled Africa into the world of Pharmacovigilance. He is a good person. He touched lives.
May his very gentle soul rest in peace. He can never be forgotten. He will live forever in our hearts and our lives.
Phil Tregunno (UK)
What devastating news. There can be very few people in the word who have had such a profoundly positive influence across so many countries in all six populated continents. Of course, the reason for Sten’s impact, both on a personal and professional level was the way that he went about everything he did; approachable, knowledgeable but most importantly kind and personable.
A huge loss for all of us and the wider pharmacovigilance community. Rest in peace Sten.
Mariano Madurga Sanz (Spain)
My condolences and love to the family of Sten Olsson. My great friend since 1990, supporting the development of Pharmacovigilance in Spain. And since 2000, with its collaboration to bring the seed of the PV to all parts of Latin America.
Thank you friend Sten, you will always live in my heart.
Rest in peace.
Souad Skalli (Morocco)
It’s terrible to hear about your loss dear Sten. I express my sincere sympathy to your family and ISoP big family. You were a very special person with great heart and you contributed to improving pharmacovigilance and patient safety worldwide, RIP dear friend.
Raquel Herrera Comoglio (Argentina)
It is heartbroken to know that Sten has passed away. He was an extraordinarily good person, appreciated by everyone. He was close to all of ours, always available for a consultation, a conference, a piece of advice…
Sten has made an invaluable contribution to pharmacovigilance in the entire world, especially in our less-resourced countries. I remember very well the smooth and patient way in which he supported and encouraged the edition of our books in Spanish, and of course, did so with many other projects of many other people.
In these sad moments, we can only be comforted by the certainty that Sten was beloved by everyone and that his memory and work will remain among all of ours. Rest in peace, Sten.
Zhang Li (China)
When I received the terrible news, I was shocked and profoundly sad. It is really big loss to ISoP and world pharmacovigilance. Sten was one of the outstanding teachers when I joined in UMC training course in 2004. He is not only an excellent expert, but also is a very nice and patient mentor of mine. After Mira told us he was ill at last ISoP AB meeting, I emailed Sten and told him we are looking forward to his being back to us, but after today I could not email and talked to him anymore….
Sten will be remembered forever by us, Rest in Peace dear Sten.
Rebecca Noss (USA)
I met Sten in my ISOP vaccines group. Even though I didn’t know him for a long time, he was very knowledgeable, friendly, and sweet personality.
My prayers go out to his family.
Kees van Grootheest (Netherlands)
Eugene informed me about the passing away of Sten Olsson, which real touched me. We were both of the same generation, idealistic working in the ‘third world’ in the seventies, he in Vietnam, I in Congo.
We had a good relationship and understood each other quite well. He has been of a incredible signification for the international pharmacovigilance and was a fine man.
Colombian Association of Pharmacovigilance
ISoP patient engagement SIG
Sten is the legend of the pharmacovigilance; he left behind him a meaningful legacy full of science, wisdom, ethics and love.
He was a supportive leader, mentor and a believer in the capabilities of others. He engraved a nice memory in the hearts and minds of everyone who worked with him.
ISoP patient engagement group will miss one of its advisory committee members.
Rest in Peace now till we meet again.
Mohammed Hamdan Al Rubaie (Ministry of Health, Oman)
We are really shocked to hear about the sad demise of Mr. Sten Olsson. He was a wonderful human being and a good friend of us whose life was dedicated to improving pharmacovigilance and patient safety world over. His role in the establishment of our Pharmacovigilance Center is unforgettable. We met him last in the ISoP meeting in Muscat which was hosted by MOH Oman. His death is not only a great loss for us but for the entire PV community. We convey our deepest condolences to his bereaved family and friends. May his soul rests in peace.
John McEwen (Australia)
My deepest condolences on the loss of a great and very valued friend since 1979.
Priya Bahri (Netherlands)
Sten was one of the most important persons in pharmacovigilance – thanks to him capacity has been built over decades for pharmacovigilance worldwide, as he established and sustained training and country support in his role at UMC. But beyond his professionalism, Sten has become a friend for many in the community. It made me happy whenever I could see him, I remember his heartwarming smile, his sincere interest in others and their well-being, and his modesty that would never ask for more than what he truly needed, conscious of those who had less and should be served first. I see all my encounters with him in my memories vividly. I do not want to accept that I will not see him anymore. I do not only express my personal sadness but also pay tribute to him on behalf of the ISoP Special Interest Group for Medicinal Product Risk Communication, in my role as its coordinator. Sten was a great communicator himself and at ISoP he always supported the work of this group. My sympathy is with his family and close friends, who will miss him even more. Sten, I look up the sky and smile at you, Priya.
Joan D’souza (Switzerland)
Dear Sten, you were a remarkable person. Your dedication to UMC and ISoP is unfathomable. You were an exceptional person with great mastery of pharmacovigilance. You will always be remembered for your profound leadership and contribution to UMC and ISoP. Rest in peace.
Souad Skalli, on behalf of the Herbal & Traditional Medicines Special Interest Group (H&TMSIG)
As members of the group, we are at a loss the express our sadness and shock at Sten’s death. A prominent pioneer and leader of global pharmacovigilance, he was someone I had known since 2002 as one of the original staff members of the Uppsala Monitoring Centre; there, he held many posts related to capacity building and competence development for national pharmacovigilance systems globally within the expanding WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring. I worked with him when he managed the UMC international pharmacovigilance training courses and when I participated as a speaker for the module on the pharmacovigilance of herbal medicines. During these courses, he discussed with me the challenges of phytovigilance and encouraged me to persevere in this important field. His tenure as president of ISoP (2016-2019) was marked by his wisdom, kindness and involvement. Sten directly contributed to improving pharmacovigilance and patient safety worldwide over several decades. He will always be remembered as an important and beloved figure in our ISoP family. My sincere condolences to his own family. I hope God gives strength to them and all members of the ISoP community at this painful time. Rest in peace, dear friend Sten.
Marie Lindquist (Sweden)
There are so many people across the world feeling sad that Sten is no longer with us. His impact was great, and his teachings will never be forgotten by all those who learnt from him.
I remember, years ago, when he said that he would not retire until the WHO Programme had 100 member countries. That seemed like an ambitious goal, but with his enthusiasm and determination he made us reach it several years before his retirement from UMC. But of course, that did not stop him. He continued to travel the world to engage with other enthusiasts and to spread the message about the need for good pharmacovigilance practice everywhere.
Joanne Barnes (New Zealand), on behalf of the Western Pacific chapter of ISoP
I express our deep sadness at the passing of Sten. Sten’s commitment and contributions to pharmacovigilance were vast, and he touched and influenced the lives and work of so many people. Many of us in the Western Pacific chapter were fortunate to have known and worked with Sten over the years, and to have experienced the integrity, grace, and kindness with which he approached his work and interactions with others. Sten is sadly missed, but his legacy is the huge improvements he made to pharmacovigilance worldwide. I pass on our heart-felt condolences to Sten’s family and friends. Rest peacefully, Sten.
Nitin Joshi (New Zealand)
I am truly shocked to hear about Sten. He was a pillar of our Pharmacovigilance community. It was an honour to know him, to meet him, and to learn from him. He leaves behind a legacy of service and dedication to pharmacovigilance and a void that will be very difficult to fill. As his family and loved ones go through this tremendous loss, may they find strength in knowing that he now rests in eternal peace.
David Coulter (New Zealand)
I was shocked to hear of the death of Sten. He was a highly valued friend and colleague and I pass on my heartfelty sympathy to all who were close to him.
Sally Soh (HSA, Singapore)
It’s with great sadness to learn about the passing of Sten Olsson. I had personally met him in Sweden and Bangkok in the past, and he always came across as a sincere, humble and warmth person. He made an effort to remember us, no matter where we are from.
My deepest condolences to the family. Sten will be greatly missed and never forgotten.
Eugène van Puijenbroek (Netherlands), On behalf of the staff of pharmacovigilance centre Lareb
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sten Olsson. We have known Sten as a passionate advocate of pharmacovigilance. Over the years, pharmacovigilance center Lareb often benefited from his expertise, support and wisdom. Sten shall be deeply missed by many of us, not only because of his great knowledge of pharmacovigilance, but as a kind friend with a warm personality and drive for those who needed his help an expertise most. We wish his family, much strength in these difficult times.
Andrew Bate (UK)
Sten was a cornerstone of international pharmacovigilance. Working tirelessly, endlessly and always enthusiastically to build PV community internationally – demonstrated by how well he was and is known across the world (how many others have conducted PV training in as many countries around the world as Sten?). He personally can take much credit for the WHO programme for international drug monitoring expansion over the years, for launching an email messaging service (vigimed) for effective rapid communication between national centres, building ‘Uppsala Reports’, effective collaborations with WHO and of course more recently his leadership in ISoP. There are of course countless other ‘firsts’ and major successes.
And yet for all his myriad achievements it’s the wonderful person I will miss: someone who was modest, candid and honest with feedback, and always implicitly courageous and prepared to share his perspective irrespective of what others thought. When I moved to Sweden in early ’97 to start at UMC he helped me with the logistics of getting set up in a new country without ties (sometimes more successfully than other times!): he was always kind and always there for me, and he very much played his part in enabling to thrive in my formative years in PV. It never seemed to be about him- he was always focussed on international patient safety. I’ve throughout my 25 years in PV been able to pick up the phone and get his advice on anything: confident he’d give him clear, direct objective feedback and he was always great company, whether popping into his next door office at UMC (Stora Torget in those days), a working lunch in one of the local restaurants, a quick social catch up after a challenging day of work or bumping into him at a conference (I well remember how at any opportunity he would take the dance floors by storm). The international PV world has lost a pillar of its community: we owe him a duty to strive to further his life careers work of pharmacovigilance for all, around the world.
Pakawadee Sriphiromya (Thai FDA, Thailand)
In memory to Sten Olsson
It touched my heart with great sadness for the news of the passing of Sten Olsson. Here’s to Sten and his everlasting memory. I have worked in area of patient safety and pharmacovigilance as long as I have known Sten Olsson. Without his inspire and encouragement my first presentation as young delegate in the 32nd Annual Meeting of the National Centres participating in the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring in Rabat, Morocco (2012) wouldn’t have been possible. My dissertation in Drug Risk Management System in Thailand had also been much encouraged from him. I have never thought that our last met in India was the last time in my life.
I will always remember him on memories of drug safety task force in Thailand. His gentleness will reside in my heart.
Wimon Suwankesawon (Past-Leader together with Pharmacovigilance Team, Thailand)
In memory of Sten Olsson, a person we were blessed to know and love.
Our pharmacovigilance team in Thailand feels devastated about the passing of Sten Olsson. Infinite memory about drug safety and pharmacovigilance work was here to Sten. Every great pavement of pharmacovigilance work in Thailand wouldn’t be possible without him and his excellent team from the Uppsala Monitoring Center. Since Thailand has been the 26th member of the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring Center, his continuous mentor to our team leads to a great success in drug safety. During his Past-President of ISoP, the fruitful training course about drug risk management was organized in Bangkok, Thailand and we touched gentle recommendations as always. Pharmacovigilance team in Thailand do hopes to pass this difficult time and Sten Olsson will be in our mind forever.
Eleni Aklillu (Sweden)
On behalf of the PROFORMA consortium (https://proforma.ki.se/), we extend our sadness for the loss of Sten Olsson, our consortium member. We express our heartfelt condolences to Sten’s family, colleagues, and the global pharmacovigilance community at large. We feel privileged to have known Sten and worked with him for the past five years, starting from project design and implementation.
Sten, you have been such an incredible soul, a good teacher, and a kind person to work with. You have been a great inspiration for many of us to promote pharmacovigilance in Africa. We remain with your loving memories, and we will miss you. Rest in Peace.
Jai Prakash (Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission)
We are shocked to see the news about the demise of Mr Sten Olsson, an eminent scientist in pharmacovigilance. This is a great loss to the scientific community in general and to his family in particular. He will always remain in our heart. We pray God to rest his soul in peace and give family members the strength to bear this irreparable loss.
Sevgi Öksüz (Turkey)
You normally feel sorry when somebody pass away but some losses make you feel that a part of yourself, i.e your arm or your thumb, is lacking and your richness in soul is diminished. Sten was the latter for me even we communicate and meet very very rarely.
I decided to work in pharmacovigilance years ago and Sten was the first person I met in WHO Collaborating Center in Uppsala in 1984, during my WHO fellowship program. I had also the chance to meet his nice 3-person-family at this time as invited to their cosy home. He had been very supportive in a very gentle way to make me comfortable to contact him for help anytime I need it. I have another memory of his caring personality and friendship after I was robbed in a street in Barcelona when walking to the gala dinner sometime in 90s. I will always remember Sten, his warm and shy Swedish smile and his way of looking reflecting full of thoughts in mind. I will miss you Sten.
I would like also to express my sincere feelings for his whole family.
In memory of Professor Michel Ollagnier (1944 – 2021)
Prof Michel Ollagnier was a Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, Director of the Regional Pharmacovigilance Center of Saint-Etienne (France), and President of the French Association of the Regional Pharmacovigilance Centers during several years.
He has been the last vice-president of the European Society of Pharmacovigilance (ESOP) and played an important role in the founding of the International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP). Prof Michel Ollagnier became an honorary member of the ISoP in October 2006, at the General Assembly in Liège (Belgium).
Michel had a very endearing personality, he was a fervent supporter of the development of pharmacovigilance and influenced the development of pharmacovigilance in France and on the international level. He always had a mischievous smile, a caring listening.
Our thoughts are with his wife and his family.
Prof Thierry Trenque
(Regional Pharmacovigilance Center Reims, France)
In memory of Professor Joerg Hasford (1950 – 2021)
It is with great sadness that we write on the passing of our colleague and friend Professor Joerg Hasford on June 10, 2021, in Munich.
Joerg Hasford was a founding member of ESOP in November 1992 in Paris. He was known to report in several of his talks with some pleasure and pride that, after a hard- working day at a conference and after a dinner at the restaurant “Le Café Procope”, the seed of an idea to create a European pharmacovigilance society was planted – on the footpath in front of this famous restaurant. It was not a crazy idea, it was the starting point to a remarkable development – a scientific society bringing pharmacovigilance experts together whose members these days come from all continents.
Joerg Hasford received his academic education in medicine at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich and the Free University in Berlin. In 1980, he received his PhD in clinical pharmacology, and in 1989, after his postdoctoral lecture qualification (habilitation), he was appointed as lecturer of biometry and epidemiology in Munich. From 1994 until his retirement, he was professor for medical informatics and epidemiology at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich.
Joerg Hasford’s scientific interests in pharmacovigilance and its various disciplines started early and expanded over time to take a dominant role in his professional career. His interests comprised benefit-harm assessment of drugs and patient safety issues in this context, patient adherence to medicines and interventions, clinical trial methodology, pharmacoepidemiology and public health issues. He published more than 300 papers, particularly in drug utilisation, compliance and persistence, biometry and statistics of clinical and epidemiological studies. His publications and numerous posters at ISoP conferences covered the assessment of adverse reactions including malformations, pharmacoeconomics as well as quality of life.
He was the initiator of a network of pharmacovigilance centres in the Eastern federal countries after the reunification of Germany, and he coordinated this network for more than ten years. He was the founder of the German chapter of the Drug Utilization Research Group (DURG) and consortium member of the IMI-PROTECT in the European Union. In addition, he was a member of the European Network of Centres for Epidemiology and Pharmacovigilance (ENCePP).
Joerg Hasford served in ESOP as a member of the Executive Committee, as Vice-Treasurer and, later, as an ISoP member of many programme committees. He was one of the main enthusiasts for the creation of ISoP from ESOP. He recognized the great value of the European Society as it evolved from a largely French initiative focusing on developing the logic and science of pharmacovigilance and creating more evidence-based approaches to decision-making for medicinal therapies. While others had similar thoughts, the challenge was to extend the vision and operations beyond Europe to a Society that would benefit the whole world, bringing forth and supporting those with little or no resources and neither scientific nor political support for their work. Some thought that such a development was premature, but time has shown that our internationalisation has brought many benefits to many people globally. Joerg Hasford’s firmness, experience and good judgement were key in this development.
He attended many ISoP Annual Meetings, and in 2014 he delivered the Beje Wiholm Lecture in Tianjin, China (‘Clinical trials, information technologies and benefit assessment – current challenges for pharmacovigilance’). He contributed substantially at the ISoP/ENTIS-Workshop on Pregnancy Drug Registries and Good Pharmacovigilance Practice in June 2016 in Berlin. In 2020 he received the ISoP Fellowship Award.
He was an enormously creative person and open-minded to new developments in the field. Beyond this he was a personality with a great sense of humour. We remember him and our mutual co-operation over many years with pleasure and respect.
Our thoughts are with his wife and his family. He will be missed by many.
July 8th, 2021
David J Finney
In memory of Professor David J Finney (1917-2018), Honorary member of ISoP
David J Finney: the founder of pharmacovigilance
I Ralph Edwards
David was a remarkable, modest person and wonderful as a friend. His scientific achievements in mathematics and statistics are numerous and are well recorded at the James Lind Library (see www.jameslindlibrary.org/finney-dj-1965/), but he was also a traveller, a raconteur, kind, and yet determined. He had a profound interest in people and their welfare and happiness, certainly not as an amorphous statistical group.
He was the originator of the concept of pharmacovigilance. His pivotal 1965 paper about his original far-reaching thoughts after the thalidomide tragedy was entitled “The design and logic of a monitor of drug use”. He wrote it whilst on sabbatical leave at Harvard:
“The aim must be to create conditions under which hitherto unsuspected associations between a drug and a reaction in a patient are recognized as early as possible. To this end, emphasis should be placed on the recording of events (his emphasis), untoward happenings in patients, rather than adverse reactions.”
“Even the simplest type of recording, in which events are recorded but very few attendant circumstances, could have drawn attention to the rapid increase in phocomelia in West Germany… A system of control cards could be used to follow trends. If recording is more full… great opportunities arise for the detection of important associations”.
So David Finney was the first to see the potential of patient monitoring for adverse events. Note that he was mainly concerned with what the patients experienced as an outcome of their treatment, rather than just considering the effects of the drugs.
David Finney’s brainchild has become a reality through the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring and the Foundation Collaborating Centre in Uppsala. Moreover, at least a vision of his ideas is held in almost every nation in the world: to consider the outcomes of the treatments we use in medicine and to find out whether medicines work well in real-life medical practice in very different contexts. Whilst David noted that a systematic approach was necessary and that it would be costly overall, he also pointed out the potential long-term savings. Most countries accept the truths of that, even when they may not have the resources to bring about the necessary changes. Around 130 countries have systems to monitor safety of medicines.
The whole world, therefore, has benefitted greatly from this one person. More of his relevant thoughts in the broad area of patient outcomes and individual patient monitoring are collected in the UMC book ‘Writings in Pharmacovigilance’.
The depth of David’s concern about science as well as people was expressed in his writings about the misuses and misunderstandings of statistics. One of his papers on statistics was entitled, ‘A necessity for living or a source of nonsense’. In this paper he talks about the dangers of extrapolating results citing, as an example, the following. Results from 1400 patients admitted to 28 hospitals in two states of Australia showed a 16% rate of ‘adverse events’ causing prolongation of hospital stay and even death. He took issue at using this 16% figure in combination with data from a different study that showed there were 2.8 hospital admissions overall in the country annually. Incorrect extrapolation in using the two results from different studies gave the scary, but wrong, interpretation of 450 000 patients that may have such a serious drug related adverse event annually in Australia.
Nor was David short on delightfully quiet and ironic humour. In his paper, ‘Support and illumination’ he commences with a joke: “Too many people use statistics as a drunken man uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination!”, and then he proceeds to discuss the confusions in terminology in the jargon terms of statistics and the same words in common English use, such as ‘chance’, risk’, ‘probability’ and ‘not significant’.
I have enjoyed several opportunities to chat with David over the years and to see him in action too, but one of the most poignant was at an International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology meeting in Edinburgh where he was the first Professor of Statistical Sciences. He was sitting alone in a corridor where conference delegates were hurrying to their coffee between sessions: nobody talked to, or even recognised him. He simply sat still and gazed out of the window, apparently deep in thought. When I spoke he said, “Oh hallo” as though I saw him every day. I asked him if he had been in the meeting, and he said he thought he might not understand it. It didn’t take much to persuade him to sit in on a session, nor did it take long before he corrected a presenter who reported a 119% increase in x, pointing out gently but firmly that, “Per cent means ‘out of a hundred’.”
I shall not forget David and I wish more of you had been able to enjoy this gentle-man’s company, but I am also pleased that we had him with us for more than 100 years. His family must be very proud of him and we hope that the knowledge of his importance to so many might offer a little comfort to them.
FOOTNOTE: On 18 November 2009, Professor David J Finney was interviewed at his home in Edinburgh (in his 92nd year) by Jan P Vandenbroucke on behalf of the Royal Statistical Society of Great Britain of which he was past-President, and for The James Lind Library. There you can find more about this great man’s life.
This appeared in Uppsala Reports 80, 2019.
Ana Maria Corrêa Nunes
In memory of Dr. Ana Maria Corrêa Nunes (1947-2017).
It is with great sadness that I write on the passing of our colleague and friend Dr. Ana Maria Corrêa Nunes on 24th of December 2017.
Ana obtained her medical degree in Lisbon in 1972 and specialized in Internal Medicine and Cardiology. After a few years of clinical work she switched to the pharmaceutical industry and later to INFARMED, the Portuguese national medicines authority. But Ana’s work went beyond the borders of Portugal.
I met Ana when she came in Uppsala in 1998 working on the process of generating signals from international data. I had recently started a new job at the Pharmacovigilance department of a company in Uppsala, and our meetings became the beginning of many years of friendship, and sharing of knowledge and ideas. Ana later became a member of the UMC signal review panel.
Ana was the first Secretary-General of the International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP) (2000-2003), under Prof. Ralph Edwards’s presidency. Many of us know Ana from ESOP and then ISoP and will treasure fond memories from ISoP conferences in different parts of the world.
In 2005, Ana became a Member of the Committee for Orphan Drugs (COMP), at the Europe Medicines Agency and a few years later she joined the ENCePP Steering Group.
Ana was devoted to her work, determined to do what was right, and improve the life of patients. However, she always found time for friends and family. She had high integrity and was a very caring person, with a lot of good sense of humor. Ana loved the arts, opera, fado, orchids and everything that was beautiful. She also became a true expert in decorating cakes with sugar art.
It has been a privilege for me to have been a part of Ana’s life, which ended much too early. She passed away from a rare disease for which there is as yet no cure. Ana wanted us all to continue to improve pharmacovigilance and contribute to development of new treatments.
Christina Ström Möller
We are deeply saddened to report the death of Professor Giampaolo Velo past ISoP President (2003-2006) who died in Verona Borgo Trento hospital in Italy on August 17, 2017.
He will be greatly missed by his ISoP colleagues and friends and we are most grateful to Professor Nicholas Moore (past ISoP President (2006-2009)) for providing the obituary below.
We are sad;
On August 17, 2017 Giampaolo Velo has left. Padrino is gone.
He was 74 years young, always there for a new idea, a new trip, a new endeavour. He has left an indelible mark in European pharmacology, from initial fundamental pharmacology, to clinical pharmacology, expanding his interests to pharmacovigilance, ecopharmacovigilance, and was already preparing space pharmacology…
He was professor of Pharmacology in Verona, director of the institute of pharmacology of the universities of Verona and Padova, of the regional pharmacovigilance centre of the Veneto Region, of the reference centre for education and communication within the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring.
He was president of ISoP (2003-2006), which he opened to Asia with the Manila Meeting and chairman of EACPT of which he was a cofounder, and on the editorial board of most European journals in our field.
Over many years, he organised meetings in Erice for the Fondazione Ettore Majorana, which were typical of him: in a beautiful place, with extreme collegiality based on sound traditions (Marsala after dinner), with serious work in the daytime, resulting in communications such as the Erice Declaration on communication in Pharmacovigilance, or a special issue of British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology on Herbal Medicines. His curiosity was immense, and took him all over the (pharmacological and public health) world, where he knew everyone and everyone loved him.
His kindness was infinite, his hospitality legendary. Certainly entirely thanks to Giulia. He loved her to the point of having a car in her name (a giuletta, of course).
We grieve for her, for his children, for all of us. We are all his orphans.
See Giampaolo’s conference on ecopharmacovigilance in Bordeaux in November 2008:
Click to view.
Christina Ström Möller
René-Jean Royer, born 8 may 1931, professor of Clinical Pharmacology in Nancy, left us in July 2016.
He was fundamental to Pharmacovigilance and to our Society, having founded the European Society of Pharmacovigilance, ESOP, in 1992, chaired it as president, and led in 2000 the change to ISoP, the international Society of Pharmacovigilance.
He presided the French national Pharmacovigilance Commission. He also presided the Pharmacovigilance Working party of CHMP, first in Brussels then in London, the predecessor to PRAC. In fact, with his many friends he was present and instrumental at all the important points in the foundation of European Pharmacovigilance. Many of these friends have preceded him (Sue Wood, Ron Mann, Chalbi Belkahia, to cite but a few), but many others remain and grieve him.
He was a profoundly just and caring person, who nurtured science and cohesion, left a powerful team in Nancy and a vibrant French Pharmacovigilance System. Discussions with him were always insightful. Even though he was often seen more as a politician of Pharmacovigilance, he was no less a scientist, and published over a hundred papers between 1969 and 2000, on rheumatology, clinical pharmacology and pharmacovigilance.
As the two other « French Presidents » of ISoP our grief is acute, but we share it with many others whose grief is no less strong, among whom the members of ISoP worldwide. We also share this grief with his wife and daughters, one of whom was also member of Isop’s executive committee.
Prof. Nicholas Moore (ISoP President 2006-2009)
Prof. Hervé Le Louet (ISoP President 2012-2016)
Dr Andrew Herxheimer, honorary member of ISoP, died on 22 February 2016.
ISoP and the global public health community have lost a dear colleague and friend who showed unwavering lifelong passion in protecting and acting in the interests of patients especially those whose voices went unheard.
Dr Andrew Herxheimer was a clinical pharmacologist in the Cochrane Collaboration, Emeritus Fellow of the UK Cochrane Centre, a convenor of the Cochrane Collaboration Adverse Effects Methods Group, and the founding member of International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB).
Dr Herxheimer became a honorary member of ISoP in October 2010, at the General Assembly in Accra, Ghana. Always active, he was a keen supporter of ESOP (European Society of Pharmacovigilance) and thoroughly enjoyed attending the Society meetings and welcomed the opportunity for lively debate in a way that will be fondly missed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr Herxheimer’s family and friends.
It is with great sadness that we have learnt of Professor Chalbi Belkahia’s passing.
ISoP and the World of Pharmacology have lost a dear colleague and friend.
As a strong supporter of pharmacovigilance since 1976, when he was Assistant Professor at the Regional Centre of Pharmacovigilance in Lyon, France, he went onto create the Pharmacovigilance Unit at the Medical School in Tunis in 1977 and the Tunisian National Centre of Pharmacovigilance in 1983.
An Emeritus Professor, ex-dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Tunis, a distinguished doctor, loyal, and always proud of his students, he will be remembered for his scientific and public health contributions at national and international levels; at ISoP we will remember how much he was dedicated to Pharmacovigilance and to ISoP.
Prof Chalbi Belkahia was an Executive Committee member of ISoP in 2002-2003, a keen participant in ESOP (European Society of Pharmacovigilance)/ISoP meetings and he played an important role in the founding of the Society internationally by organizing successfully the very first international ISoP annual meeting in 2001 in Tunis-Carthage, just a few weeks after 9/11.
He was Vice-President of the Society from 2003 to 2006 and became a honorary member in 2010.
He will be missed and today our thoughts and prayers are with Prof Belkahia’s family and friends.