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Pursuing better outcomes for people with pain

Using the patient’s voice to change how we conduct R&D

Lars JoenssonPain is a sensation that we have all experienced in one form or another, but chronic pain that limits what people can do each day is unfortunately a reality for millions in Europe.

Grünenthal is an entrepreneurial, science-based pharmaceutical company with a long track record of bringing innovative pain treatments and state-of-the-art technologies to patients.

The company’s vision is to change current R&D practice by including patients as equal stakeholders at all stages of the drug development process to better understand patient-relevant needs and outcomes. “The patient voice is particularly relevant when considering new medicines that target pain as people feel pain in very different ways, and there is no ‘gold standard’ clinical measure,” says Lars Joensson, vice president, lead patient engagement at Grünenthal.

Joensson has more than 30 years’ experience of working in patient advocacy and public affairs, and is responsible for driving forward Grünenthal’s patient engagement initiatives.  He adds: “We put a lot of effort into considering how we should engage with patient groups. Our approach is to move beyond the historical ‘tokenistic’ approach to patient engagement by first listening and then proposing ways we might work together. This is a subtle but important point: we only propose ideas thereby creating two-way relationships built on openness and trust. This is especially important when working in R&D, where drugs may fail and business priorities can change much more readily than when we already have a product on the market.”

In March 2017, Grünenthal organised its first Patient Summit, which brought together patient advocates, clinicians and Grünenthal researchers to define ways to bring the patient voice to the R&D process.

Three working groups were formed and the key learnings from these are actively being pursued by Grünenthal with a view to improving clinical trial development in three conditions associated with chronic pain:

  • Vulvodynia: development of a new patient-reported outcome for use in clinical trials
  • Bladder pain: definition and standardisation of pain descriptors to improve diagnosis
  • Stump/amputee pain: mapping the patient journey, ‘the patient experience of pain’.

Joensson concludes: “The Patient Summit was a fantastic event that put patients at the centre of the R&D equation. It has enabled us to identify a small number of pilot projects where we can learn from each other and use these insights to improve clinical development, thereby providing better solutions for chronic pain conditions.”

Lars Joensson is vice president, lead patient engagement at Grünenthal

In association with

Grunenthal

27th September 2017

From: Sales

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