EyeForPharma, Philadelphia – Chemelle Evans, Vice President at Snow Companies asked panelists from Shire, UCB and AstraZeneca how we can use human connections to chart a new path for our industries. Each had a perspective on how it already is – and what could be next.

Shire: Binge eating disorder

Eric Cline, Director of Marketing, US Neuroscience Business Unit at Shire, shared some big changes they made in a recent indication launch for Vyvanse. He started with a simple observation about human connections:

Today, when patients and providers are together in an office having a discussion, there seems to be a lost connection between them. Time impedes the opportunity to really build empathy with the patient. That leads to a more transactional interaction, missing an opportunity for patients to really share their experience

As brands, we can be a voice for those patients. How can we be their champions despite the lack of time?

That dynamic was really important for Vyvanse because it treats a binge eating disorder, a psychiatric condition. It is a more newly recognized diagnosis. One that doctors didn’t always recognize and patients weren’t aware they were suffering from.

It was easy for Shire to build a rational argument for the disease and how to treat it. But empathy was missing. Why should a physician start this conversation? Why invest the time to get across the shame, stigma, embarrassment that are so typical in mental health?

Shire had to be the champion of those patients, to help their voices be heard. They created a branded patient ambassador program and rolled it out in peer to peer programs. There, patients joined with a KOL to talk about how important the diagnosis was and how treatment changed their lives and relationships.

Shire hosted 150 – 160 P2P programs for well over 1,000 healthcare professionals.

Physicians who initially may have been resistant to the disorder say the programs completely changed the way they think, feel, and will treat BED.

“It’s powerful stuff when you hear physicians who have been practicing for a long time brought to tears by hearing from a patient,” Cline said.

These ambassadors also became part of how Shire builds empathy in the sales force to earn more motivation and advocacy in the field. The patients talked 1:1 with reps, came to sales meetings, and offered teleconferences. Cline explained, “it was a real transfer of passion.”

UCB: Epilepsy

Dakar De La Cruz, Senior Brand Manager of Epilepsy Patients Initiatives at UCB, shared a simple example of how to get people talking about epilepsy with – of all things – a print ad.