The role of medical affairs in positive and appropriate engagement with patient advocacy groups

Written by Gavin Jones, Dr Alexandra Safronova & Professor Peter Rutherford on Thursday 30th January 2020

Following a series of workshops at a recent Medical Affairs Professionals Society (MAPS) Congress in Amsterdam, workshop leaders Gavin Jones, Dr Alexandra Safronova and Professor Peter Rutherford share their lessons learnt on how medical affairs departments within pharmaceutical companies can help create better partnerships with patient advocacy groups

Patient advocacy groups continue to mobilise and play an increasingly important role in delivering advice and support helping to get treatments to those most in need by Influencing many elements of drug development and patient access processes. This is very much the case in rare disease where groups give critical support to patients and those close to them through influential programmes delivered  with passion and dogged persistence.

Biopharma recognises the importance of positive engagement and partnership with patient groups. Gaining a far greater understanding of the patient journey helps to translate innovations into actual benefits for patients and caregivers in improved clinical outcomes and patient experience.

A question remains around how, and which part of a biopharma organisation should be involved in building patient group relationships. Many organisations invest in patient advocacy leads to support engagement, but they are often brought in to support dialogue as a new treatment is becoming available.  As   patient  groups  are  rightly  getting involved in activities much earlier in the drug development process who should lead engagement at this stage and support over the longer term?

This was a question that was posed at workshops during the recent Medical Affairs Professionals (MAPS) meeting in Europe. MAPS is an organisation that supports the sharing of best practice amongst leaders in this key function of pharmaceutical companies. So, who are medical affairs and what is their role?

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