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CHALLENGE- PATIENT ACCESS TEAM

CHALLENGE- PATIENT ACCESS TEAM

CHALLENGE

  • An emerging Life Sciences company had a treatment for rare metabolic disease
  • Some patient upon diagnosis were denied access through Medicaid
  • Patient engagement services and HUB vendors were not equipped to negotiate government processes
  • Product moved from managed care to fee-for-service with no instructions for physicians and patients to access medication
  • The physicians were global thought leaders and time was a challenge for their involvement.
  • However, patients suffered setbacks without access to therapy
  • Patient families reluctant to approach local state representative and the Medicaid program
APPROACH – PATIENT ACCESS TEAM

APPROACH – PATIENT ACCESS TEAM

APPROACH

  • Members of the Acuity team were brought into the company as a part of a broader diagnostic of patient engagement.
  • Created a focused State response team integrated with State Government Affairs, Patient Advocacy, Market Access, and Patient Engagement Services.
  • Provided program decision makers with educational information on disease through state based stakeholders such as physicians, local trade organizations and contract lobbyists.
  • Continued to keep in contact with State personnel throughout process.

 

RESULTS – PATIENT ACCESS TEAM

RESULTS – PATIENT ACCESS TEAM

RESULTS

  • State created clear process for requesting coverage, review of applications, and contacts of key personnel involved moving forward.
  • When process finalized, trained HUB on new state processes to ensure ocmpliance and patient access to appropriate care.
  • Internal process expanded to other rare disease therapy to support patient access efforts.

 

Opioids: Use as Directed

Opioids: Use as Directed

No one disputes that opioid addiction is a problem in need of varied solutions, as each person struggling is a story all his or her own. The opioid abuse epidemic has been a runaway freight train, barreling out of control through communities and lives, without much conversation as to why the tracks were built in the first place and at what speed and with what precautions we need to take the journey.

Even as society appropriately grapples with how to address addiction and over use, it’s important to keep in mind that the drugs themselves are vital for people who need them. People like Michael’s mother-in-law, who until her recent death, lived eight years with cancer, enduring several surgeries and sometimes in great pain.

When the modern day angels of hospice joined the family support team in her last days, “comfort care” was the primary goal. For people with chronic pain, recovering post-surgery, or suffering from cancer, these drugs have made what once was an agonizing event more bearable. And that’s important to remember.

For those dealing with cancer, the second leading cause of death after heart disease, proper use of opioids can allow a quality of life not experienced by any of our ancestors.

Jeff’s father also died from cancer, enduring brain cancer surgeries with the help of opioids, and he also was able to pass away at home because of the comfort the drugs provided. As time passes, many of us will sit by similar bedsides, feeling helpless, wishing more could be done. That’s not an argument for irresponsible use of opioids, but we need to keep in mind that they are sometimes the right choice for patients.

Still, having worked in health-care-related fields, we know that safeguards need to be in place. We need new thinking on the opioid crisis because the death toll is so high. More than 72,000 people died from drug overdoes last year, with about 50,000 of those attributed to opioids.  The scope is so intense all hands are needed on deck, from prestigious universities to detox programs in jails and communities to the FDA in approving medications to facilitate withdrawal, to retailers paying attention to the volume of drugs sold.

It’s the medical professionals – doctors, nurses, pharmacists – who are in the best position to limit and direct long-term use, to choose alternatives to the drugs for some patients and to recognize the signs of distress.

Patients who are suffering don’t have the experience or the training to navigate all the downsides to a drug that can help in the short term. It’s reported that 116 peoplea day lose their lives to opioid addiction, while many others are struggling to distance themselves from the solution that became their biggest problem. The National Institutes of Health notes that about 5 percent of those who take opioids as directed for more than a year can develop an addiction disorder.

In March, Congress provided $4.7 billion to assist those struggling with the opioid crisis, including $1 billion for grants to states, and now Congress is making an investment in comprehensive programming. The Department of Health and Human Services has an opioid help page to direct people to resources and assistance to deal with the fallout of misused drugs. And recently, in a moment of rare bipartisan agreement, the Senate passed by 98-1 the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 following a 393-8 vote in the House as members of both parties took seriously the problem of opioid abuse and addiction – all good things and necessary to address the chaos of addiction.

But let’s not demonize these drugs or belittle the need of those who do depend on them, when properly utilized.

Some diseases, some injuries, and some events require the kind of relief found in opioids. They are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. But for some of the sickest among us, the drugs provide respite from conditions that have plagued mankind through the centuries.

Jeff Oldham and Michael Hamrick are partners at Acuity Strategic Partners, a Washington D.C.-based public affairs firm. This piece reflects their personal stories and is not advocacy on behalf of a current client. 

CHALLENGE – HEMOPHILIA

CHALLENGE – HEMOPHILIA

CHALLENGE

  • Biogen seeking to shift from solely an MS-identified leader in biotech to a trusted leader in hemophilia
  • The hemophilia community is entrenched with longstanding big-pharma corporate partners
  • Hemophilia patients have been burned before and building trust within their community is difficult and takes time
  • Biogen needed to establish trusted relationships with patients, patient organizations and KOLs in short order as they were expecting approval of two novel therapies within the year

 

APPROACH – HEMOPHILIA

APPROACH – HEMOPHILIA

APPROACH

  • Aligned with patient community to listen to/uncover unmet needs
  • Proposed a multi-stakeholder collaboration that offered free genotyping at all hemophilia treatment centers (HTCs) throughout US
  • Biogen partnered with the National Hemophilia Foundation, American Thrombosis and Hemostasis Center and Bloodworks NorthWest to offer funding and scientific leadership for My Life, Our Future (MLOF) genotyping initiative.
  • Each partner worked together to raise awareness of MLOF and socialize the offering to the community via social media and educational symposiums throughout the US.
RESULTS – HEMOPHILIA

RESULTS – HEMOPHILIA

RESULTS

  • Biogen rapidly gained positive exposure to the hemophilia community demonstrating corporate leadership in a disease state that is difficult to break into.
  • Biogen built trust in a skeptical patient community by identifying itself as a partner providing a solution to an unmet medical need
  • MLOF provided an opportunity to establish a data set that researchers could tap into further R&D for better treatments for bleeding disorders.
  • Beyond building trust and demonstrating leadership, this advocacy initiative resulted in intimate and trustworthy relationships with HCP KOLs and patient leaders within hemophilia – an asset during the commercial launch of the 2 approved products for patients with hemophilia.

 

CHALLENGE – RARE DISEASE

CHALLENGE – RARE DISEASE

CHALLENGE

  • An emerging Life Sciences company developing a treatment hoped to address an ultra rare, metabolic, genetic disorder
  • This patient community was fragmented without a patient advocacy organization
  • This patient community was fragmented without a patient advocacy organization
  • Company didn’t have anywhere to query patients when seeking input for natural history study, clinical trial design, etc.
APPROACH- RARE DISEASE

APPROACH- RARE DISEASE

APPROACH

  • Company identified a patient leader with demonstrated non-profit leadership experience, poised to lead the creation of this US- based patient advocacy organization as Executive Director.
  • Company provided an unrestricted grant to underwrite the start up costs associated with the groups build out.
  • Company hired consultant to assist the Executive Director with strategic and tactical support, outreaching to centers of excellence to identify diagnosed patients, build a website and other educational tools and establishing a repository for all things related to this condition.
  • Patient Organization garnered additional corporate support to fund the mission and now stands fully functioning as a trusted go to for patients and caregivers once diagnosed with this disease.