Pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) has been vital for progress in the field. But most importantly, to prioritizing patient care. Thus, aiming at improving healthcare service quality overall.
The increase in drug launches has pushed R&D to the forefront. Now, this is a beacon of attention, in which companies are investing greatly. However, there is one issue that must be taken into consideration. And that is patient prioritization.
Continue reading to discover more about research and development and what companies can do going forward.
What is research and development?
R&D is the research and development stage crucial for drug creation in the pharmaceutical industry. This is a process that starts as soon as teams choose the candidate drugs. This process counts with rigorous research and tests to determine suitability.
This way, R&D forms the basis for product creation and manufacture. For that, it has grown in importance over the years for both companies and governments that want to stay ahead in the run for scientific progress.
Funding is fundamental to the development of R&D. Governments tend to bid in with support in the initial stages of research. This help is mainly done through:
- Direct allocation of budget;
- Research grants;
- Publicly-owned research institutions; and
- Funding of higher education institutions.
In their turn, companies are the biggest investors. These spend a significant portion of their budget on R&D. This trend just further increased with COVID. As well as the need to produce new, safe drugs at a higher speed.
“The pandemic certainly has accelerated innovation in R&D models, and it has illuminated the benefits of leading practices including industry collaboration, data-sharing, and digitization.” – Sonal Shah, Senior Manager at Deloitte services and center for Health Solutions & Life Sciences Research Leader (Outsourcing – Pharma.com)
Hence, in 2020, the PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) associate companies spent a whopping $91 billion in research and development (Statista). The American industry was responsible for spending 21% of the global revenue on R&D.
Overall, research and development is a rigorous process. One that requires a great investment from both companies and governments alike. Nonetheless, these aim at responding to the population’s needs in the best way possible. Whereas safety in the 1960s was often undervalued, now it is a guarantee.
R&D and Patients?
R&D’s interaction with patients starts after the initial early stages of research. First, teams test the leaving candidates for drug development. Thus, seeing if they can properly absorb, metabolize, and excrete without being too toxic for the potential user.
So, these are tested both in the lab and in animals to guarantee the necessary safety for the following stages. The clinical trials with human subjects.
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The clinical trials stage is, then, divided into three:
- Phase 1 measures the responses of a small number of subjects/patients to the candidate drug;
- Phase 2 assesses the candidate’s efficacy and short-term side effects on a designated group of a few hundred human subjects;
- Phase 3 tests the candidate drug on a larger group of people (around a few thousand).
It is important that at each stage companies assess results. And, consequently, withdraw the necessary candidates that are not performing well. Most of all, these can compromise the trial’s profitability.
Patient Prioritization: The way forward
Patients are key players in R&D. Why? Because these take part in the clinical trial phase.
Participation can be an overwhelming experience. Especially because questions often arise around possible outcomes. So, patient prioritization should be a primary concern for pharma companies when venturing into research and development.
The aim is to put participants’ safety and mental wellness into thorough consideration. For that to happen, there are a few key things companies ought to keep in mind as they move forward into the future. And those are:
Provide all information in a compliant and trusted manner. So, there is no room for misunderstanding. Patients must be aware of all the processes and procedures to happen in clinical trials.
For that, pharma companies should face transparency as a guiding compass. That way patients have access to truthful, accurate information. However, it is worth keeping in mind the need to simplify this communication link, by adopting easy-to-understand, jargon-free vocabulary. For that, the adoption of innovative means of communication is crucial.
So why not do it through a 90-second animated explainer video? People now spend most of their time online. And part of that time is consuming interactive content that is watchable, instead of readable. Through it, you can let your patient in a comprehensive experience that will provide all the necessary information.
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Patients that participate in clinical trials are subjected to a direct or indirect financial burden. This can be a loss of working hours, travel expenses, and more.
This financial burden can further compromise and complicate a patient’s health and wellness. Especially those that already display a complicated clinical panorama, such as cancer. Trials pose to these an opportunity but also an additional cost to their lives that can be burdening.
According to a recent survey done on 213 cancer patients, 48% of them declared to have spent a monthly total of around $1000 on out-of-pocket expenses (The Oncologist). These are costs that come with participation in clinical trials that involve:
- Regular clinic visits;
- Additional tests;
- Frequent travel;
- Lodging expenses…
Out of these patients, only 29% were fully or partially reimbursed.
Thus, as clinical trials and R&D become more important, it is vital companies find financial support alternatives. By putting the patient first, you can guarantee a greater adherence to these programs and their long-term success.
Mental wellness consideration
Lastly, it is important companies have in place mental wellness support that can respond to the patient’s needs. Some of these are participants whose participation in the trial is a light at the end of the tunnel. The only hope.
Considering this, companies ought to ensure staff receives proper training and preparation. It is vital one is able to address a patient’s cultural, linguistic, and personal issues. Showing, overall, empathy and comprehension for the other.
In the end…
You want to ensure you provide the patient with a connected experience. One where worth, consideration, and trust can be extracted as guaranteed values. R&D is stronger than ever, especially with the pandemic. So, it needs to respond quickly to everchanging societal conjectures worldwide.