Candid conversation with Marc Boutin

Candid conversation with Marc Boutin


The pharma industry is going through a transition and I’m not convinced that the sector itself realizes the transition it’s in. So, Marc, it was a real pleasure to have lunch with you today, and one of the things we talked about was patient oriented drug development. What are the trends you’re seeing right now in that space? We’re seeing a lot of movement in drug development where patients are being involved, so we’re seeing companies start to look at the outcomes that matter most to patients. We’re also seeing a lot of development in the clinical trials space where patients and their family caregivers are being consulted on how you develop the protocols. What would be one thing you would want a company like Novartis to do differently in engaging patients in this whole process? I think the one thing is a big thing, and that is to think systemically. How do we organize our company to really engage patients throughout the entire lifecycle, so that we not only get treatments that speak to the outcomes they care about, it actually changes the health ecosystem and how we think about how we deliver care. That would be a big shift I think for a company like ours who’s always focused on very specific outcomes. What would be an example of where you’ve seen how the input from patients really shaped clinical development? A great example is in Duchennes, which is a horrible disease that’s 100% deadly, mostly impacting children. The outcomes that companies were shooting at were extending lives, but when you asked children and their families what was most important to them, they said, “I don’t want my life extended by another six months. What I want is the strength to reach my sleeve with my teeth, throw my hand on the table, type out a message on an iPad to my friend. Give me six more months of that functionality; don’t give me six months of life where I can’t move.” That’s a powerful example of when asking patients gives us a really key insight on how to make medicines that matter. What are some of the things Novartis could be doing better when we work with patients? Do more work in the early research. When you decide what asset you’re going to develop, it should be informed by the outcomes that matter most to patients. Really design your clinical trials so that people can be successful in not only enrolling but participating and having the least impact on their lives but giving you the data that you need. Yeah. I think put yourself in the patient’s shoes. I remember I met this heart failure patient in one of our clinical trials, and he was driving four hours for every clinic visit, and you asked him why does he do this: “Because I want to support heart failure research.” So, you have these people who are making these incredible acts of generosity to participate in clinical trials, and yet in the end, we make it so hard on them. You were able to help us with our Commitment to Patients and Caregivers. I wanted to get your thoughts on that commitment. The pharma industry is going through a transition and I’m not convinced that the sector itself realizes the transition it’s in. The entire health ecosystem is shifting, it’s shifting to a model that’s going to be segmented on patients and what matters to them, because it’s going to drive costs and outcomes, You were out front, you were early on that, and it speaks to really winning the hearts and minds of your customers. I’m hopeful that this can really be one of the catalysts to enable Novartis to be a leading voice to support patient interests so thank you for your support.

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