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New thinking, bold action: building a better future for people living with severe diseases

How UCB Neurology’s deep understanding of people living with neurological conditions is transforming the patient journey

UCB campus in the US

For each of us, 2020 brought new and unprecedented challenges.

For people living with severe neurological conditions like epilepsy, the struggles of the past year were multiplied. Patients who already live each day with a serious, chronic condition were forced to manage it in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, facing difficulties with physical access to doctors and medicines, and understandably heightened levels of uncertainty, anxiety and stress.

Our teams at UCB, who work to develop new treatments and solutions for these patients, have taken on challenges presented by the pandemic that have only increased our motivation to improve the lives of those living with chronic neurological conditions, and have given us new perspectives on how to be more agile, more creative and more deliberate in our ability to do so.

Progressing innovative treatment solutions for patientsThe importance of listening and understanding has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything we do is with the patient in mind – listening to and learning from patients and using our science to deliver breakthrough solutions.

Developing solutions to address the challenges of patients living with serious conditions means being a partner who considers and acts with intention. It takes bold, compelling action to surround patients and their caregivers with better, smarter ways that empower them to not only navigate their health, but also their lives and well-being. That is why we are intentional in our pursuit of developing new treatments for specific patient populations.

We ended 2020 with an opportunity to showcase the breadth of our innovative work on behalf of those with epilepsy at AES2020, the American Epilepsy Society’s (AES) virtual meeting. Our presentations – including 15 scientific posters – demonstrated research that was informed by the latest science and guided by the needs of patients.

Beyond just medicines, we are committed to creating solutions and tools for patients to ensure they also have access to treatments and the support they need every step of the way.

Even before the pandemic, we were already focused on meeting our patients’ needs with programmes like our Patient Assistance Program and ucbCARES, our support service for patients.

Early investment in patient-focused services – beyond pharmaceutical solutions – positioned us to better serve our patient communities during the pandemic. This holistic approach to care enables us to drive innovative solutions that truly make a difference in building a better future for patients.

Using technology to pinpoint unmet needs

The past year has demonstrated the vital role technology plays in maintaining a sense of normality, even in the face of a global crisis. In a time of increased physical separation, we put technology to the test, and it has changed expectations for how healthcare can and should be delivered.

Our investments in digital tools helped us not only get through 2020 but allowed us to seamlessly continue our mission to bring new value to the patient experience.

We know that unleashing the power of digital innovation will allow us to uncover unmet needs as well as enable us to collect actionable data and insights that will help patients, their caregivers and their healthcare providers make the right decisions together about their health.

During the height of the pandemic, we became one of the first pharmaceutical companies to participate in COVID Moonshot, a collaboration of some of the brightest minds in biopharma, academia and technology that used artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to discover and crowdsource drug designs to test against the virus.

Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, we announced the launch of several new digital initiatives including a new collaboration with doc.ai, a leading AI platform specialising in collecting real-world data from patients. Together, we are working to launch an at-home digital health trial app designed to detect facial muscle changes and vocal muscle weaknesses in patients with myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune, neuromuscular condition that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly target the connection between nerves and muscles.

The goal is to build an AI model using patient data to help predict symptom and pattern flares. We are entering 2021 with a renewed excitement about the promise digital solutions can provide in solving some of the most complex challenges in healthcare. The key to transforming patient experiences lies in creating a more connected, more patient-centric healthcare ecosystem.

We recently announced our investment in the launch of Nile AI, a new independent company created to develop an epilepsy care management platform that
will serve as an extension of the healthcare provider, giving patients peace of mind between consultations, with the goal of ultimately shortening the path to optimal treatment.

Partnering for the greatest impact

As we work to create a more responsive healthcare ecosystem and address the unmet needs of patients living with severe conditions, especially during
the pandemic, we know it is impossible to do it alone. Finding and developing treatments and solutions means working together.

To make a real, lasting impact, it takes meaningful relationships and strategic partnerships with those who have the right tools, will and ability to help break down the barriers to better care and address unmet needs.

Last year shed light on the deep-seated health inequities that exist and impact underserved populations in the United States. In our mission to better serve all who live with severe diseases, we announced new research with Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions to analyse the potential correlation between social determinants of health – factors outside clinical walls such as socioeconomic status, housing, physical environment and education that affect health outcomes for people with epilepsy.

The research was inspired in part by a study published in Neurology that revealed that one-third of newly diagnosed epilepsy patients in the US remain untreated with anti-seizure drugs for up to three years after diagnosis.

Similarly, we are advancing new collaborations to support our efforts around broadening and accelerating data collection and study design capabilities, as well as develop unique, data-driven solutions that will ultimately deliver better patient outcomes and population health to help drive sustainability for healthcare.

Looking forward to the future of care

As we close the book on a turbulent chapter in 2020, we have made significant strides for people living with severe conditions. I am proud to be part of a team powered by an unwavering commitment and desire to continue to learn, grow and build a more valuable and sustainable future for patients.

Through a deeper understanding of our patients, further investment in partnerships and digital business transformation, I believe we can transform the patient experience, empowering patients to live the lives they choose today and in the future.

Mike Davis is Head of US Neurology at UCB

16th March 2021

Mike Davis is Head of US Neurology at UCB

16th March 2021

From: Research

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