Towards Patient Centricity: LEO Pharma

Industry plays a pivotal role in making sure patient needs are not overlooked by the wider healthcare community. That’s according to the team at LEO Pharma, who spoke to pharmaphorum as part of our Towards Patient Centricity series.

Ensuring people get the care – and the drug products – they need to live their lives relies working in partnership.

Last year, LEO Pharma worked with the Psoriasis Association to find out how the symptoms of the skin condition impacts on everyday life.

The resulting report, Wake Up to Psoriasis, shone a light on how sleep loss and itch negatively impact on overall wellbeing and people’s ability to participate in wider society.

These findings are invaluable to the company’s patient centric mission, says Lee Gittings, the company’s UK and Ireland dermatology director, and Funmi Oluwa, market access and external affairs director, UK/IE.

“In order to deliver on our mission and offer the best possible solutions to people living with skin conditions, we recognise that we need to go beyond the skin and put patients at the heart of everything,” says Gittings.

“The team works across business functions and with internal and external experts, including patients, to ensure the patient voice is always represented”

“As a foundation-owned company we aren’t accountable to shareholders, and that allows us to take a long- term view with how we think and act.”

Disturbed sleep

Wake Up to Psoriasis, which was published in September, was based on three pieces of market research, all conducted in partnership with the Psoriasis Association.

The General Public Attitudes Survey analysed data from 2,006 UK adults, including a subsample of 128 people with self-reported psoriasis and 1,878 people without the condition. The patient survey was completed by 100 confirmed psoriasis patients, and 20 people with the condition submitted a patient diary.

The work found that 43% of patients had experienced sleep difficulties in the previous month, and that 73% got fewer than five hours sleep during their most recent disturbed night.

The report encourages people who have lost touch with their care team to speak to their doctor.

“Unfortunately, the needs of people living with skin conditions are often overlooked, so we want to champion the patient voice, both internally and externally, in order to support people to get the best possible care,” says Gittings.

From R&D to post-marketing

Projects such as these help the company to involve patients throughout the drug development pathway, starting at R&D, said Funmi Oluwa, who looks after LEO UK/IE’s Communications and Digital Patient Engagement team.

“We talk with people who live with the conditions we aim to treat so that we can fully understand the disease burden, then incorporate these insights into trial design and product specifications,” she says.

The team, which focuses on listening to, and raising awareness of, patient need, works across business functions and with internal and external experts, including patients, to ensure the patient voice is always represented, she said.

Says Oluwa: “Partnering with patient and professional groups is key to delivering patient centricity. Real value for patients can be achieved when these groups work together as equal partners.”

Social media presence, another central tenet of LEO UK/IE’s mission to ensure the patent voice is heard, places the organisation “at the heart of patient conversations”, she adds.

QualityCare, a dedicated online resource with provides free support to people living with psoriasis attracts more than 30,000 visits each month.

The most visited sector is the Blogger Universe, which offers patient-to-patient advice on real life issues.

“Our resident bloggers all have psoriasis themselves. They cover topics spanning a wide range of areas that people have told us they want to know about, from dating with psoriasis to tips on exercising,” Oluwa explains.

Compliance challenges

Effective partnership working, particularly online, isn’t always easy to achieve – but that doesn’t mean it should not be done, the pair say.

Says Gittings: “As a company, we endeavour to go above and beyond in order to deliver for patients, and we challenge ourselves to think and act differently to ensure we are constantly meeting patient needs.

“But this doesn’t come without its challenges – namely all the hard, but important, work required to satisfy compliance processes.”

Having close working relationships with medical colleagues is key to overcoming these challenges, he adds.

Asked for their advice to fellow pharmaceutical executives who may be intent on further embedding patient centricity into their business, Oluwa says it is important to do the groundwork.

“Engage with people and support them in raising awareness of their condition. Listen and understand peoples’ real needs and use this to guide decision making.2

This approach, they believe, will pay dividends as the industry as a whole moves to embrace this new, patient centric way of working.

“While patient centricity has been talked about for a long time in the industry, it has really only just started in earnest,” says Gittings.

“We hope that we see the boundaries of engagement and the pharma industry become more open to closer communication going forward. Only positive dialogue can really bring true patient centricity closer to reality.”

How has your company been working to embed the patient voice into its everyday work? Email george.underwood@pharmaphorum.com to take part in pharmaphorum’s Towards Patient Centricity series.