Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Merck & Co has signed a psoriasis research collaboration with US-based patients' social network PatientsLikeMe.
The pharma company hopes that by evaluating the impact of psoriasis on patients the work will inform “a novel approach to improving outcomes”.
Dr Sachin Jain, chief medical information and innovation officer at Merck, said:
"Effective use of health information provides the path forward to patient-centered care and personalised medicine.
"Our collaboration with PatientsLikeMe is an important part of Merck's strategy to establish and apply innovative solutions that improve disease management and enhance the patient experience."
PatientsLikeMe numbers most top 20 pharma companies as clients in some form, and its latest deal is the third major pharma collaboration after deals with UCB in epilepsy and Novartis in organ transplants.
Its deal with Merck will see the pharma company's clinical researchers and epidemiologists work directly with PatientsLikeMe to analyse and interpret psoriasis patient-reported data.
These will be drawn from PatientsLikeMe's psoriasis patient community, which includes nearly 2,000 people who share data and stories to reveal what it's like to have the disease and what they do to treat it.
Ben Heywood, president and co-founder of PatientsLikeMe, said: “A broader and more human view of psoriasis will help patients and their doctors understand the true nature of the disease.
“We're excited to collaborate with patients and Merck to uncover insights about the disease that may lead to better approaches for patients managing their condition day-to-day; providers creating care plans; and researchers developing treatments.”
Dubbed a health information collaboration, PatientsLikeMe and Merck hope that by working together they can unearth new insights into autoimmune disease psoriasis, which is estimated to affect over 7.5m people in the US.
Merck's current focus within the therapy area is Remicade (infliximab). The company shares with Johnson and Johnson rights to the monoclonal antibody treatment, which has so far added just over a billion dollars to Merck's revenues this year.
The company is also developing the anti-interleukin-23 monoclonal antibody MK-3222, which it plans to move into phase III trials this year.
Further back in the development cycle Merck is collaborating with biopharmaceutical company Lycera on novel oral medicines for a range of autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis.