Monday, March 16, 2015

What is the Role of the Patient in Clinical Trials?

Last year’s Partnerships in Clinical Trials Europe event asked the question ‘what is the role of patients in the clinical trials industry?’ We asked many different attendees at the event what they thought the role of the patient was within their company and the general consensus that came from answers was that the patient is by far the most important thing to think about when developing new drugs. Katarzyna Dulna, who is the Clinical Research Manager at Clinmark gave a succinct response that sums up to me the role of the patient – ‘the patient is the most important, it is in the front of the mind and in the back of the mind.’

Companies in the pharma industry are becoming more patient-centric in their approaches to clinical trials. Meeting the needs of the patient before anything is paramount when developing new drugs. Aaron Mazze, the Vice President of Marketing at Merge eClinical stressed the need to look ‘for ways to help organizations get their drugs on the market faster’. New technologies and innovations in the development and production lines will help to produce drugs faster and thus be of aid to patients who are in urgent need of them.

Sasha Sonnenberg, the Vice President of Commercial Operations at Marken goes on to say that the care and quality standards need to stay high even after the critical stages of development. He mentions that ‘it’s not about the first shipment, it’s about each and every shipment that needs to be handled in the same important way and needs to be handled with care’. The drugs after production need to get to the physicians to give to patients. If a shipment is lost or damaged then that could cause serious ramifications down the line, potentially being life threatening for patients.

Jack Whelan, author, research advocate and cancer survivor/warrior gave a compelling keynote at last year’s event which gave mention to the fact that patients today are ‘more educated, empowered and e-connected’, which he believes should be highly encouraged. Patients today, especially with diseases such as cancer are far more connected with one and other through platforms such as chat
rooms and educational forums. Industries need to encourage such platforms so that firstly patients and other affected people such as family or friends can learn as much as possible about dealing with diseases and secondly industries can look at these forums to see exactly the needs of the patient. Patrice Hugo, the Associate Vice President and Chief Scientist at Labcorp Clinical Trials highlighted that companies need to be more ‘exposed to the patients reality.’ which can be done through studying forums and other similar sites.

The role of the patient for clinical trials companies is incredibly important. By getting the needs of the patient at the forefront of development, pharma companies are able to produce new drugs that are more patient-centric. The production from start to finish has to be carried out in the most efficient way possible and so new technologies and techniques are constantly being looked at to minimize time taken to get the drugs to patients.

Check out the full video below: 

For information on the 24th annual Partnership in Clinical Trials conference taking place in Boston this April, click here:

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at

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