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Lucy Chard
25 Aug 2023

Is patient centricity the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing?

In this interview with Sandra Sánchez y Oldenhage, President of PharmAdvice, she speaks to the importance of considering patients in the manufacturing stages of the pharmaceutical supply chain, and how it can redefine healthcare. 

What are some ways in which companies are considering patients in the manufacturing process?

In an era where patient empowerment and personalised healthcare are gaining momentum, pharmaceutical companies are embracing patient-centricity as a powerful paradigm shift. Gone are the days when drug development and manufacturing were solely dictated by scientific protocols. Today, patient perspectives are integrated from the very inception of a drug's journey. Patient input not only guides drug formulation but also influences critical decisions regarding delivery methods, dosing regimens, and even packaging design, ultimately leading to better treatment outcomes and improved patient experiences.

Furthermore, innovative technologies are enabling personalised medicine. Companies are utilising patient data to tailor drug formulations, dosages, and treatment schedules. This approach not only enhances treatment efficacy but also minimises side effects, boosting overall patient wellbeing. A notable example is the development of patient-specific dosing in oncology, where genetic information helps determine the optimal treatment plan for each patient.

Consider the case of a young child diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Traditional manufacturing approaches might have treated all patients with a standardised dosage. However, with patient-centricity, companies analyse the child's genetic makeup to create a tailored therapy, minimising adverse effects and maximising efficacy. This not only transforms the child's life but also inspires hope for countless others facing similar challenges.

What are some of the challenges associated with these? 

While the vision of patient-centric manufacturing is inspiring, the path is not without hurdles. Integrating patient insights into a highly regulated industry requires careful navigation. Striking a harmonious balance between patient preferences, regulatory requirements, and scientific rigor demands a delicate dance. Moreover, the diverse needs of patient populations can pose a challenge in ensuring inclusivity and equitable representation.

Imagine a scenario where patient preferences conflict with conventional manufacturing processes, potentially delaying product development. Overcoming such challenges requires innovative thinking, collaboration, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. It's a journey that demands persistence and a genuine commitment to improving patient lives.

Balancing patient preferences with scientific rigor and regulatory requirements can be complex. Additionally, ensuring data privacy and security when utilising patient data for personalised medicine poses ethical and legal challenges. So, the challenges posed by patient-centric manufacturing are formidable, but not insurmountable. By nurturing a culture of collaboration, embracing innovation, and advocating for regulatory agility, we can navigate these challenges with purpose and resolve. This journey towards patient-centric manufacturing isn't just a destination; it's a continuous voyage, fuelled by the unwavering determination to improve lives and redefine the future of healthcare.

How important is incorporating patient centric values in pipelines for more targeted therapies, such as in rare disease and cell and gene therapies? 

The significance of patient-centric manufacturing is magnified in the realm of targeted therapies, where precision is paramount. Incorporating patient-centric values into manufacturing is especially vital for targeted therapies like rare diseases, and cell and gene therapies. These therapies often have limited patient populations, making every patient's experience crucial. Patient-centric manufacturing ensures these therapies are tailored to individual needs, optimising effectiveness, and reducing adverse events. 

Take the example of gene therapies for rare diseases. By aligning manufacturing processes with patient needs, we can create treatments that target the root cause of the disease, offering not just relief but potential cures. Manufacturing processes can be fine-tuned to accommodate small batches, reducing wastage and costs while meeting patient demand. This goes beyond the conventional one-size-fits-all approach, ushering in an era of treatments tailored to individual genetic profiles.

Think about a world where a single dose of gene therapy can alleviate a rare disease's lifelong burden. Patient-centric manufacturing makes this vision attainable by focusing resources on what truly matters – the patient. As we witness the transformation of the most challenging medical frontiers, it becomes clear that patient-centricity is not just a strategy; it's a moral imperative.

Has there been changes to regulations in the manufacturing industry to accommodate a greater focus on patients?

The winds of change are sweeping through regulatory landscapes as patient-centricity gains traction. Regulatory agencies recognise that patients are more than mere recipients of treatments; they are active participants in their healthcare journey, recognising the importance of their input and are encouraging its incorporation. As a result, expedited approval pathways and adaptive trial designs are being introduced to facilitate the development and manufacturing of treatments that directly address unmet patient needs. This shift not only reflects a holistic approach that considers patient perspectives alongside scientific rigor, but it also accelerates treatment availability that empowers patients by providing them with more options.

Consider the recent FDA guidance on patient-focused drug development, which emphasises the incorporation of patient perspectives throughout the drug lifecycle. This dynamic shift in regulations signals a future where patients wield a significant influence, ensuring that treatments truly resonate with their experiences and desires.

How can we measure the impact increased awareness of patient centricity in the manufacturing stages actually has on patients? 

Measuring the impact of patient-centric manufacturing isn't just about numbers; it's about transforming lives. Patient-reported outcomes become the barometer of success, providing valuable insights into treatment efficacy, quality of life, and patient satisfaction. Analysing real-world data and post-marketing surveillance allows us to track how patient-centric manufacturing leads to fewer hospitalisations, reduced treatment-related complications, and ultimately, improved patient well-being, thus therapeutic success.

Ponder over a patient with a chronic condition reporting higher treatment adherence, fewer side effects, and an overall improved quality of life. This isn't just data; it's a testament to the power of patient-centric manufacturing to reshape healthcare narratives and empower individuals to live fuller, healthier lives.

What are the social and economic effects of being more vigilant about including patient centric values in the manufacturing stages? 

The impact of patient-centric manufacturing reaches far beyond medicine; it ripples through society and economies. By ensuring patients receive treatments tailored to their needs, we unlock a cascade of social benefits. Patients are more likely to adhere to therapies that suit their preferences, leading to better disease management and fewer missed workdays. This, in turn, bolsters workforce productivity and reduces the economic burden of chronic diseases on healthcare systems. Moreover, by reducing hospitalisations and medical interventions, patient-centric manufacturing contributes to healthcare cost savings. This, in turn, can lead to more efficient resource allocation and improved overall health system sustainability.

Consider the economic impact of reduced hospitalisations and fewer complications. This translates to substantial cost savings for healthcare systems, allowing resources to be channelled towards innovation, research, and addressing broader societal challenges. Patient-centric manufacturing isn't just about revolutionising healthcare; it's about building stronger, more resilient communities.

Any final thoughts? 

Incorporating patient-centric values into drug manufacturing is not merely a trend; it's a transformative shift that holds the potential to revolutionise healthcare. By placing patients at the heart of the manufacturing process, we can unlock new dimensions of treatment efficacy, patient satisfaction, and societal well-being. As technology advances and regulatory frameworks adapt, the journey towards patient-centric manufacturing will continue to shape the future of medicine, fostering a healthier, more compassionate world for all.

So, in the tapestry of medical progress, patient-centric manufacturing emerges as a vibrant thread, weaving together science, compassion, and innovation. As we stand at the crossroads of discovery, the path ahead is illuminated by the stories of lives transformed, diseases conquered, and hope rekindled. Patient-centricity is not a mere buzzword; it's a call to action, a call to reshape the future of healthcare, and a call to honour the intrinsic dignity of every patient on their journey to healing. 

As we forge ahead, let us be guided by the unwavering belief that a patient-centric approach isn't just a strategy for success; it's a legacy of empathy and a promise of a brighter, healthier world for generations to come.

Sandra is a 35-year life sciences executive with significant operational and international experience operating top ranked pharmaceutical companies mainly in Latin America, including Pfizer, Merck, Sharp & Dohme, and Novartis, and was successful in establishing operations for Amgen and Biogen in Mexico as President and GM. 

Her entrepreneurial spirit has led her to form her own consulting firm (PharmAdvice), leveraging her extensive and in-depth experience in the commercial, regulatory, government affairs and access fields throughout Latin America. 

To hear more from Sandra listen to a recent podcast on the effects nearshoring has on the pharmaceutical industry. 

Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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