Earlier this week, PatientView published the results of its country survey, which asked more than 1,000 global patient groups to rank biopharmaceutical companies based on their overall "corporate reputation." For the second year in a row, ViiV Healthcare, a joint venture between Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Shionogi and headquartered in the U.K. (which may also have the biggest IPO for a pharma company ever later this year), emerged as number one.
According to PatientView, the six indicators of corporate reputation include patient centricity, patient information, patient safety, useful products, transparency, and integrity. ViiV took the top spot for its outstanding performance in three key areas: patient centricity, providing high-quality patient information, and patient safety, and providing useful products.
Manuel Goncalves, Head of Government Affairs, Patient Advocacy, Community Partnerships, Access, and Communications at Viiv Healthcare, told BioPharma Dive, “We are delighted that for the second year running, we have been ranked first in the PatientView survey ‘The Corporate Reputation of Pharma in 2014 – the Patient Perspective’. Everyone at ViiV Healthcare is committed to put patients’ interests at the forefront of what we do every day.”
Focusing on patients
A key takeaway from the survey's results is that patient centricity has become as a top indicator of a biopharma company’s reputation. But what exactly is patient centricity?
According to Dr. Dennis Robbins, Ph.D., MPH, writing in the journal Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science in 2013, “There is no consensus definition of patient-centricity.” However, on the broadest level, patient centricity involves bringing the patient perspective into clinical research design. In addition, patient centricity embodies a participatory approach to healthcare delivery, with more empowered, informed patients, who are consulted and valued at every stage of drug development and delivery.
Patient centricity is also a key component of the sweeping new draft proposal put forth by the House Commerce and Energy Committee—the 21st Century Cure Initiative (you can read BioPharma Dive's recap of the bill here). The bill contains two broad patient-centric provisions, including patient-focused drug development, in which patient-experience data is factored into regulatory decision-making, and expanded access.
How ViiV approaches patient centricity
ViiV is recognized for its expertise in bringing together different community-based stakeholders who are concerned about or directly affected by HIV/AIDS. "We collaborate with the HIV community, including patient groups, to develop meaningful treatment innovations, improve access to our medicines and support communities most affected by the disease through programs that have a direct and sustainable impact," explains Goncalves. "How we do it is by engaging with and listening to the HIV community to better understand their concerns and challenges, learn about their priorities and challenges, and consider new ways to address them."
Here's how that philosophy plays out in the real world: Earlier this month, ViiV announced the launch of a four-year, $10 million initial investment to fuel a community response to HIV among black gay and bisexual men, with a focus on Baltimore, MD and Jackson, MS—two cities that have been hit hard by a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, especially among black men.
The initiative, known as ACCELERATE!, aims to identify treatment gaps, and understand various ethnographic and other factors that contribute to challenging statistics—in the U.S., one in three gay black men is HIV-infected, compared with 1 in 10 white gay men.
Building a global community
Now, imagine taking this type of impactful, community-based, game-changing initiative and multiplying its effect throughout the world, from Kenya, to Europe, to Latin America, to Asia and to Vancouver, where the DUDES’ Club provides health services for marginalized, inner-city men who are either HIV-infected or at risk of infection.
In fact, ViiV’s global access program took a huge leap forward in 2014 when it signed an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool. According to Goncalves, "Through this agreement, ViiV Healthcare will accelerate access to dolutegravir where the need is the greatest, in the countries where 99% of children and 93.4% of adults with HIV in the developing world live."
Why dolutegravir? According to Sean Dalziel, Managing Director and Co-founder of Actera Pharmaceuticals, “ViiV's integrase inhibitor dolutegravir is the jewel in the crown of their drug portfolio. The versatility of dolutegravir in combination uses, and in certain pediatric populations presents further opportunities to advance the treatment alternatives for managing HIV infection.”
Moving forward, the role of the patient and patient-advocacy groups will only become stronger, which is good for all parties involved. As Dalziel says, "It goes without saying that putting patients first is paramount to a successful pharmaceutical product and business."