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Inspired by patients: UCB embraces EU patient project

Posted by
Xavier Hormaechea, Public Affairs
The modern healthcare landscape has changed beyond recognition over the past couple of decades.

The key change? No longer do various stakeholders – doctors, academics, patients, regulators, payers, companies – operate in isolation.

The new world is powered by partnerships; networks of healthcare actors combining to share knowledge and accelerate innovation.
These days, patients are more than just consumers of medicines which have been developed by experts. Patients themselves have become experts and their insights are increasingly valued by researchers, regulators and other stakeholders.

UCB’s new tagline – Inspired by patients. Driven by science. – reflects the growing role of patients’ input into the drug development process.

Of course, patient expertise often comes chiefly from personal experience of diseases and treatments. To maximise the contribution patient representatives can make, it is important that they also have good insights into how therapies are developed and tested.

That is why UCB supports the European Patients’ Academy on Therapeutic Innovation (EUPATI), a five-year multi-stakeholder project which will educate patient representatives and the lay public on how new medicines are assessed for safety and effectiveness.

The project, funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative – a public-private partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical sector – began last year and is already making good progress in connecting a critical mass of informed patient advocates.

Its first full conference, held in Rome, attracted more than 180 delegates from 28 countries to hear about the areas of training EUPATI is working on.

These include education and information in medicines development, a certificate-level course that will produce 100 patient experts by 2017; online educational material for 10,000 patient representatives; and an Internet library with information for anyone interested in medicines R&D.

High-quality input from patient experts has the potential to support better clinical trial designs, more meaningful patient involvement in the regulatory and reimbursement processes, and a more efficient delivery of properly tested and adapted innovative medicines.