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Patient 360° Summit 2020 Meeting: Innovating Together

Publish Date

29 MAR 2021


In order to deliver meaningful therapies and solutions, we must continually engage in conversations with the patient and caregiver community. These valued conversations allow us to understand our partners.

We know that to deliver meaningful therapies, we must continually engage in conversations with the patient and caregiver community - the end-users of our solutions and therapies. These conversations allow us to understand how diseases affect patients, what symptoms give them the greatest difficulties, and what would make a noticeable difference to their lives.  

Our ambition is to become the number one patient-directed healthcare company.  A fine example of our commitment to lead in this space was the most recent Patient 360° Summit Meeting, last December. Such events provide an invaluable opportunity for our colleagues and representatives from patient organizations to come together to engage in conversations that will promote beneficial change for all associated stakeholders. Despite the global pandemic, the event could still go ahead in a virtual capacity, which demonstrates the commitment we have to the patient community and to maintaining this patient-centered dialogue.  

Lessons from the pandemic
The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of the healthcare industry. This has resulted in a rapid need for adapting ways of working to continue to deliver vital treatments and solutions to those most vulnerable and at-risk. Understandably, these adapted ways of working have underpinned our business plans for the year.

By communicating with patient organizations throughout the ongoing pandemic, we have learned how this has impacted on treatments in a variety of therapeutic areas. In some ways, the pandemic has more strongly focused our attention on the needs of the patient and caregiver. It has provided both the global pharmaceutical industry and healthcare systems with a unique opportunity to support the patient community in a more innovative, decentralized way and has promoted a growing trend in digital therapeutics, collecting real-world evidence in a way that is safest and most convenient for patients.  

“Living with the threat of COVID-19, the social restrictions, and the short and long-term clinical symptoms of COVID-19 has become part of everyday life. Never have so many people been so aware of their health or how a disease can change their lives forever,” explained Maria Rivas, Chief Medical Officer, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

Innovating together
A core principle that underpins everything we do at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is recognizing the importance of innovating together with patient and caregiver leaders. To us, patients and carers are not just advisors, they are active participants and stakeholders in every stage of the R&D process. It is vital that we continue to encourage them to become more involved and invested in clinical trials and therefore we need to build their trust in our company. We understand the importance of delivering value to the patient community and being transparent about the value that clinical trial participation brings to patients and those around them.

Throughout the coming year, our teams are looking at how industry members and patient organizations can work together to improve trust in our business, how to raise awareness to increase patient access and recruitment to clinical trials and ensure better representation across diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

During a fireside interview with our Healthcare Executive Committee, Global Head of Development, Danny Bar-Zohar said “I’ve changed the direction of my career because I felt I could make a broader impact on patients at a global level. Our company is committed to breaking down clinical trials barriers by increasing accessibility and improving the patient experience. Also ensuring diversity of clinical trial participants and enhancing understanding of basic clinical research.”

A call to action in 2021
The most recent Patient 360° Summit Meeting was another great steppingstone towards our endeavor to become the number one patient-directed healthcare company, and we have learned a great deal that will help us build upon and advance our existing work in 2021. Throughout the year, we will continue to seek even more opportunities to engage in conversations around the R&D journey with leaders of international patient and carer organizations, including representatives from therapy areas we do not even work in currently – such is our commitment to patient-focused drug development.

The recent unveiling of the Patient-Focused Drug Development Commitment Statement outlines our long-term pledge to listen to, learn from and act on what matters most to patients and their families, in a bid to discover, develop and deliver new medicines that meet patients’ needs and contribute to longer, healthier lives. Read the full statement here.

In order to truly embed the patient voice in all aspects of the R&D journey, we must continue to think more broadly about addressing patient needs and explore how industry and patient organizations can better work together to develop products and services that go ‘beyond the pill’. This will only be made possible by us working more closely with patient organizations to understand their needs and consider the entire treatment and life situation of the patient via other tools and support, including digital therapeutics. Furthermore, closer collaborations with patients and carers will hopefully allow the recruitment of more diverse populations to our clinical trials and could assist with reaching under-represented cultural and ethnic communities that may have less access to internet and other mainstream lines of communication.

By ensuring that a diverse patient voice is included in every stage of the drug development continuum, we will ultimately improve the lives of patients across the world. That is a shared goal we can all sign-up to.