Philadelphia, PA— Live from EFP ‘18: Cheryl MacDiarmid, GSK’s US Respiratory Business Head, shared a glimpse into why and how her organization is so dedicated to the COPD patients they serve. 


She started with the facts:

  • COPD is 3rd leading cause of death in the US
  • 25 Million living everyday
  • Nearly 1 in 10 people live with COPD
  • NIH lists COPD as #150 in how they prioritize its funding
  • Many patients hide the disease due to shame from “causing it”


From there, she identified three ways to bring patient focus to the center of your work:

  • The culture you build
  • The strategies you implement
  • The awareness and education you drive


So how has GSK done this? She started with a story—15 years ago, one of GSK’s internal scientist/heroes made up his mind to build a better inhaler. He was convinced that a company with the respiratory history of GSK owed it to their patients to build a device that does more than just deliver medicine—it should fit their life. He dedicated a decade of his career to engaging with groups of patients and engineers to do just that.

But Cheryl believes that we can’t limit ourselves to just the insights and capabilities of our individual companies—we need to strategically build partnerships that pivot on the patient to revolutionize what’s possible. She shared that GSK partnered with Propeller Health to build a digital solution that can flag poor compliance, track symptomatic changes and be embedded directly into the device.

Finally, GSK is also building empathy for their patients in their employees. They’ve built an experience they call “Walking in the Shoes of a Patient.” They use a constrictive vest paired with an air-limiting mask to allow a healthy individual to walk as a COPD patient for just a moment. It’s garnered praise from across their organization and now they’re taking the power of that experience outside. They’ve got plans to build awareness and create urgency with HCPs, caregivers and policy makers by taking that show on the road. Stay tuned for more updates from EFP ’18!

About the Author:

Drew Beck brings more than a decade of broad healthcare experience to GSW in his role as the Director of Innovation. He has enjoyed working for big healthcare names including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline in Global Marketing and Pharmaceutical Sales roles, but his start came from hands-on work in patient care in Emergency Medicine. This foundation has given him a deep understanding of both patients and healthcare professionals. In his current role, he combines all he has learned from this background with insights into current market trends to help clients drive the future of their brands.