In previous posts, I promised to outline a new model for drug development, and now is the time to lay out the first of a few founding principles. As the title suggests, I am advocating focus on the patient, but with a twist on current hype around involving the patient in determining their medical destiny—it is the healthcare professional who is the center of the drug development process, not the patient. This may seem perverse, but in doing this, the patient, and that means most if not all of us, benefits in the end. I liken it to the role of a gardener growing vegetables in Find It, File It, Flog It, as follows:
“Returning from the metaphor to the real world of pharmaceuticals, with patients replacing vegetables, Big Pharma has now opened the back door and taken a step into that unfamiliar “garden” territory. It is actually talking with patients. Will talking with patients help?
Talking with patients is a bit like asking the vegetables what makes them so big and strong. They wouldn’t have the faintest idea. You would need to be a gardener to know that, and Big Pharma has never been a fan of gardening, in the metaphorical sense. Big Pharma has grown up taking trips to the supermarket to get its food.
Conversations with patients are necessary, of course, in the same way it is important to keep going into the garden to see how the beans are doing. That can involve some deep understanding of the needs that vegetables have, but it is a delusion to believe those interactions will change anything unless the family changes its ways. Yet there is no sign that is happening. The culture is reinforcing any attempts for change to accept the challenges on the horizon.”
So here we have it. In a nutshell, the message here is that Big Pharma must engage deeply with healthcare professionals at the earliest stage of drug development, not hand them a fait accompli when it is all but over. The present method of running clinical trials with a handful of investigators funded by the drug companies themselves, will not cut the mustard.
Time for Big Pharma to stop patenting every molecule in sight and begin thinking of how to solve healthcare professionals issues in delivering medicines to patients.