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BIO 2015 Kicks Off: Patient-Focused Drug Development Key Theme of Day One

June 16, 2015
The BIO International Convention kicked off in Philadelphia today with a strong emphasis on patient-focused drug development as a seismic shift in the way drugs are developed and delivered.

The luncheon keynote featured a discussion with News Anchor and Journalist Tom Brokaw interviewed by BIO's Jim Greenwood, in which Brokaw shared his experience and perspective as a patient. Brokaw recently authored a book about his experiences as a Multiple Myeloma patient - A Lucky Life Interrupted.

Throughout the day, speakers discussed the patient perspective and how to incorporate this input throughout drug development and delivery. Panelists shared their excitement and optimism for the changes that are taking place within the entire ecosystem. National Health Council's Marc Boutin called patient-centricity the 'blockbuster drug of the century' and the beginning of the 'era of patient engagement.'

Alkermes' CEO Richard Pops emphasized that right now we are assembling the 'basic building blocks for a rigorous assessment of patient preference' that will help to drive and shape how the industry develops drugs.

Speaking from the perspective of a CEO and a patient, OncoMed Pharmaceutical's Paul Hastings pointed out that patients aren't just interested in drugs, they're interested in their overall well-being.

Boutin shared his insights on the patient trifecta of treatment decisions: 1. What is clinical outcome goal; 2. What are the social and geographic determinants; and 3. Why do you live/life goals. All of these factor into trade-offs when making decisions about a particular course of treatment from a patient perspective.

In a session focused on the value of cures and treatments from a patient perspective, a panel of various stakeholder groups discussed the challenges patients face to gain timely access to innovative medicines and whether or not access to health insurance translates to patients’ access to innovative treatment options.

The aging population, and increase of complex and chronic conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis are contributing to higher health care costs. Additionally, many novel drugs have transformed the treatment of diseases such as hepatitis C, heart disease and cancer, are expensive and have led to increased prescription-drug spending.

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, pointed out that “the science and the effectiveness of novel drugs have advanced enormously but our financial provisions for funding to deliver these drugs has not changed in decades.”

The research-based pharmaceutical industry is driven to produce innovative medicines that will benefit patients. Dana Goldman, Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair and Director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy, discussed the dilemma between ‘patent rights and patients’ rights’ for innovative medicines. “In the EU, we see an emphasis on the short run with the goal to drive down prices. In the U.S., we have taken historically a different tactic: we want to encourage innovation and therefore we have taken the approach of initially higher prices to create the incentive for innovation.”

John M. Clymer, Executive Director, National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention, emphasized the more complete and holistic approach to excellent health for patients. “Biomedical innovation needs to be coupled with a more complete array of therapies and lifestyle changes.”

In another session focused on paying for 21st Century cures, BIO's Laurel Todd emphasized the importance of looking at value conceptually from a patient, payor and innovator perspective. Todd advised focusing on cost savings to the overall healthcare system over time rather than having a short-term, narrow perspective.

The BIO International Convention continues through Thursday.