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Patient Centricity: What Does it Actually Mean?

Pipeline development is one leading indicator of where the industry’s focus resides. Market factors have driven pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to pursue therapies in increasingly specialised therapeutic areas. With the advent of priority review programmes by the FDA, companies are increasingly focusing on areas such as oncology, as well as diseases where there is long unmet or underserved need. These areas are attractive for pharma companies due to the expedited and largely assured regulatory approval, as well as attractive premium pricing and patent protection. It is interesting to follow the role of patient advocacy groups for these rare diseases, as evidenced recently in the approval of a prominent muscular dystrophy drug, where patient testimony seemingly played a substantial role in the ultimate approval of the drug, despite reservations from the FDA review panel regarding its perceived effectiveness. Regardless of one’s perspective, it was clearly a win for the patients who, up until that point, faced no current available treatment and potentially life-limiting prospects.

Drug Delivery

In the drug development space, we are seeing patient centricity carried out in formulation development and drug delivery. For oral solid delivery forms, the advent of more patient-friendly technologies can offer a more palatable, increasingly biologically-effective, better, and faster-acting product. Technologies such as soft gels, liquid gels, and liquidfilled capsules, rapid release or quick dissolve formulations, dissolvable thin strips, as well as multi-layered or multiformulated tablets for drug combinations to reduce pill burden; all bring smarter and more consumer-friendly solutions to the patient.

For parenteral delivery forms, we are increasingly seeing technologies to reduce the complexity of drug delivery. Traditional vials and syringes are making way for advanced prefilled syringes with refined safety technologies, as well as the advance of highly engineered and even multi-use auto-injectors. Further developments are seen in topical deliveries, transdermal technologies, inhaled therapies, and even discreet wearable infusions and electronics. As a shining example, while it took many years and considerable persistence to reach the market, the novelty and convenience of MannKind’s Afrezza® inhaled insulin product has brought a significant step-change for patients suffering from diabetes.

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