MS patient advocate hopes for pharma engagement after award

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patient advocate Trishna Bharadia hopes a high-profile award will generate more awareness about the disease, and better engagement with patients from pharma companies.

At last month’s eyeforpharma conference in Barcelona, Bharadia won the Patient Advocate award for her tireless campaigning to raise awareness about MS.

Bharadia was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2008 and has become well known as a patient advocate, and even took to the dance floor as part of the People’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2015.

Since then she has championed causes such as #thinkhand, a social media campaign calling for more research into drugs to treat loss of upper body mobility in later stages of the disease.

Following the award at the conference in Barcelona, Bharadia told pharmaphorum that she hoped it would act as a catalyst for further engagement with pharma.

While she acknowledged that there are now far more treatment options for MS than at the turn of the century, Bharadia has challenged pharma companies to engage more with patients and find new treatments, especially for progressive disease.

Bharadia hopes the award will lead to further engagement with pharma companies, and encourage them to get more patient insight during the drug development process.

She said: “The biggest challenge is still an institutionalised culture of fear when it comes to engaging with patients. I think that there is a long way to go in terms of having the patient voice heard at the right level.

“Pharma has a part to play in that but there are organisations that are too scared to do that. Regulatory guidelines need to be looked at so patients can engage more easily with pharma.

“There is still a lot that can be done but we are at that point, a snowball is gathering in terms of the research that is coming through. The future is looking optimistic, particularly research into progressive MS. Traditionally that has been sidelined, but that is changing now and there is exciting stuff coming through the pipeline that could be really helpful.”

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