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Discussing a “Patient-Centered” Approach at BIO 2019

June 5, 2019

Placing patients at the center of everything the biotech industry stands for is a personal mission for Christi Shaw.

In 1996, her mother, Karen, died of breast cancer. It was a tragic time for her and her two sisters. But tragedy would strike again as Christi’s sister, Sherry, was later diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Christi and her other sibling, Shelley, put their lives on hold to help care for their sister and provide the additional support necessary for her sister to enroll in a clinical trial. It was a difficult struggle, even for a pharmaceutical leader with unique knowledge about how the health care system works (and doesn’t work).

That’s why Christi and Sherry started the More Moments More Memories Foundation. The foundation strives to “remove financial obstacles and clears a path for patients” to seek the treatment they need to fight their disease. This includes providing grants to help cover the cost of travel, lodging and food to participate in clinical trials. As the foundation notes, this support can help “provide more precious moments with their loved ones to create more lasting memories.”

The foundation was one of many topics Christi Shaw, Senior Vice President of Lilly and Company and President of Lilly Bio-Medicines, discussed during a fireside chat at BIO 2019. The discussion was led by Erin McAllister, senior editor for BioCentury. Other topics that we’re covered during the conversation include:

Understanding the patient’s journey 

“All the way from the beginning and all the way through the end, I think it is really important to understand that patient journey. When I first started in the industry we used to be able to just make medicine. Now you really need to know the moments of truth of the patient’s journey on their disease, both physical journey and emotional journey; where they need the most help.”

Ensuring access to novel treatments


“When we talk about value-based agreement or outcomes, typically the industry has been doing persistency contracts or adherence contracts, which is a start but isn’t really the full picture of the outcomes we’re looking for. I’m happy to say we have two payers we are in discussions where we are talking about real costs, guaranteeing that patients will take fewer medicines … guaranteeing the number of ER visits will go down; guaranteeing the overall cost of their health will do down. We have to take some risk …”

Looking at patients holistically



“When we talk about patient journeys, a lot of companies think, ‘Okay, what’s the prevalence number? How many are treated?’ It’s basically a numbers game. Versus when we are talking about patient journey it’s really about: what happened before the diagnosis; how did they get diagnosed; who diagnoses them; what are all the medicines they go on first and what’s the unmet need there? It’s really tracking that patient more holistically and finding where are the moments of truth that you can most impact the patient." 

Addressing both the opioid epidemic and pain crisis 



“People talk about the opioid crisis, and I like to balance that by talking about the pain crisis, the chronic pain crisis we have in the U.S. We have 100 million patients who live with chronic pain, and that’s more that cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined. So doctors will say it’s not a disease, but if you were in a car accident and that’s the only thing you have left and you can’t work, you can’t stand for long periods of time, it’s affecting your income, your family, then that needs to be treated like a disease.

"So making sure we are balancing the opioid crisis with ensuring patients who are really in pain get the medicine that they need. What we need is new innovation that’s non-addicting, non-opioid for chronic pain.” 

Focusing on patient out-of-pocket costs 



“The biggest thing it starts from is patient access or patient out-of-pocket. How we all got here, why are we talking about it now when we had health care costs and drug costs that were high in the past … but what has happened is the patient has to pay so much more than they ever have before. That’s what I think has really made this noise louder and louder and obviously it is getting more expensive with the aging population.

“If you start with the patient and say, ‘how do we make it less painful for them,’ whether it’s capping out-of-pocket [costs] or not having out-of-pocket [costs] if they paid their insurance; not having the coinsurance; not having to mortgage your house to get your medicine or deciding to get college for your kid or your medicine—we shouldn’t have to make those decisions." 

Delivering transparency across the drug cost ecosystem



“As we are looking at transparency within drug pricing, also looking at transparency of middlemen and transparency to patients about how much they are paying … The average rebate in the U.S. is 50 percent. So 50 percent of the list price is already going out the door, and patients who are on those medicines aren’t getting that rebate.”

It’s clear that taking a patient-centered approach—whether deciding which disease to target inside the research lab or which public policy solution to pursue on Capitol Hill—is vitally important to Shaw, and it’s a commitment shared by BIO and countless others within the biotech industry.