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Celgene: Patient voice often underrepresented in pricing debates

Dr Jackie Fouse says in the interests of transparency patients should be more involved
Celgene

There should be greater representation of patients in debates about access and pricing, according to Celgene's recently appointed president and chief operating officer.

Dr Jackie Fouse told PMLiVE “the patient voice, and the whole ecosystem, has often been underrepresented”.

“We've been very open with payers in terms of sharing our models for the value of propositions and trying to talk through the payer concerns about budgets and … treatment paradigms.”

Bringing the patients into this debate, Dr Fouse said, is “quite helpful” in having more “open, transparent discussions”.

Taking on her current role at the company in March, Dr Fouse having previously spent two years as president, global haematology and oncology, and before that four years as Celgene's chief financial officer.

But, as benefits a former CFO, she was also clearly mindful of the need for pharma firms to have a sustainable business model that can support their future research endeavours.

“If the world wanted to go down the path of just giving drugs away, that might sounds great but then you're not going to get anybody to spend the money to invest in the science,” she said.

“We talk a lot about how can we work together to make sure patients get access, but in a way where we also don't jeopardise our ability to continue to invest in the science.

“So we try to talk - in a transparent way - about what does it cost? And how can we work together to find ways to get patients access within a framework that will allow us to continue to see scientific innovation for the long term?”

This long-term perspective is crucial, Dr Fouse said, as the fruits of Celgene's labour - and the benefits to patients - will only be visible 10, 20 or even 30 years down the line.

The last ten years have seen Celgene ramp up its R&D spending, with the firm currently reinvesting back into research around 30% of its revenues - double the industry average.

Patient engagement
With patient-centricity much discussed in the industry, Celgene's approach is to “listen to patients a lot about how they feel about their care and access and pricing issues”, Dr Fouse said, adding that close collaboration is key.

The company has performed solidly in the this area to date, but still has room to improve - as seen by its placing in recent surveys of patient groups and their perceptions of different companies' corporate standing.

Celgene was placed 12th in a survey by PatientView of European patient groups - and came 9th in the US version of the survey.

Speaking to PMLIVE at Celgene's European headquarters in Boudry, Switzerland, Dr Fouse acknowledged that Celgene's engagement with patients across Europe is still a work-in-progress.

“We've probably had a little bit longer of a history of [listening to patients] in the US because we started there and some of the patient advocacy groups were more well-organised in the US - we now see that evolving more in Europe,” she said.

The need for a more cohesive patient group infrastructure in Europe is high - particularly across country borders - and Dr Fouse said individual companies should support this.

Article by
Rebecca Clifford

25th April 2016

From: Healthcare

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