April 16 and 17 more than 800 representatives from pharma, medical technology and patient advocacy met at the eyeforpharma Philadelphia Conference. Building on the theme of “where pharma and patients accelerate the value roadmap,” getting patients at the center of drug development and marketing dominated the conversation.
The conference started with a keynote address that made bold predictions for the future of pharma, mainly foretelling major disruptions to the previous drug development process. The message was clear: think creatively and be nimble to stay relevant.
Key takeaways from the two days focused on patients, data and value. Being patient-focused, which comes through collecting data on patient insights, leads to better value and ultimately improves ROI. Spencer Health Solutions Chief Scientific Officer Alan Menius was impressed with the number of pharma who have included a patient’s voice in their clinical trials planning.
“The impact is new end-points for diseases being considered along with traditional ones,” he said.
“The biggest impediment to the collective industry moving forward is the resistance to change,” said Spencer’s EVP John Cline. “The best ideas, therapies or technologies will not drive value without the accompanying process change that showcases the value that new thinking provides.”
Not Just Patient-Centered, Patient Driven
During a fireside chat on day one, Peter Anastasiou, executive vice president of Lundbeck, gave advice on how to redesign the research process from being patient-centric to being patient-driven. He also discussed the challenge of patient adherence and how tackling the issue needs to start in clinical trials. Paul Simms, chairman of eyeforpharma, joined Anastasiou in talking about the necessary shift to include patients in trials.
“I find it very hard to believe that anyone would not involve patients in the early design of a clinical trial,” Simms said. “From a cultural and attitudinal point of view, it’s hard to believe that we still need to be talking about this.”
Another early fireside chat involved Marc Boutin, CEO of the National Health Council, and Percival Barretto-Ko, President of Astellas, who discussed patients as partners. To do this, companies need to capture patient input during trials and also across organizations, Boutin explained.
What Value Means to Patients
Eyeforpharma is unique in its incorporation of patient voices. It’s a reminder that drug development is about more than numbers.
“This was the first conference I have attended where there was a badge designation as ‘patient,’” said Spencer’s Director of Business Development Amanda Carroccio. “It was great to see actual trial patients sitting on panels and speaking alongside the pharma persons.”
Outcomes and access are equally important and ultimately what determines the value of a drug to patients.
“Innovation is at the heart of everything a pharma company does,” said Rob Rothschild of MRM McCann during the session The Meaningful Intersections of Life and Health. ”Bringing a drug into the world is high stakes and, yet, commercialization takes the humanity out of that.”
With patient panels discussing personal experiences, access, wins and losses, these conversations round out the practical discussions of trial development, marketing and data collection. Of course, cost is a major contributor to patient access, and many sessions focused on how to control costs through technology and innovative approaches to drug development.
Nicole Nayar of abbvie reminded attendees that patient centricity in clinical trials extends beyond just the trial term. One complaint she repeatedly hears is that participants didn’t hear about the study results.
With newer technologies and a shift toward siteless trials, being able to close the feedback loop by consolidating data collected and insights into a patient-friendly format can contribute to more positive impressions of trials.
Spencer Makes an Introduction
Patient advocates joined pharma leaders to see an interactive workshop led by Alan Menius, Spencer Health Solutions Chief Scientific Officer. Participants were able to get a hands-on look at the spencer® Smart Hub. spencer dispenses pre-packaged medications, gathers answers to health status questions, captures health data from Bluetooth monitoring devices, and provides telehealth links all in one device.
If you missed Spencer Health Solutions at eyeforpharma, sign up for our upcoming webinar based on the presentation. You’ll learn how passive technology supports the shift toward patient-centered trial design.
Janet M. Kennedy is a healthcare marketing and social media professional. Janet is the Senior Digital Brand Manager for Spencer Health Solutions and hosts multiple podcasts including Get Social Health and People Always, Patients Sometimes. She is a member of the External Advisory Board of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network.