Current Edition

An Open Letter of Appreciation to Clincial Trial Participants, Patient Advisors, Caregivers and HealthCare Professionals

Thank you! Those of us who have dedicated our careers to medical and health sciences share a mission to improve the lives of people everywhere through the development of innovative vaccines and medicines. We recognise that to be our very best for patients, we cannot do it alone. We want to express our sincere appreciation to those who participate in and conduct clinical trials and the advisory support we receive from patients, caregivers, their families, and healthcare professionals (HCPs) around the world. Through their guidance and participation, we are better at what we do. Simply put, thank you!

Research and Development (R&D) teams have been notably increasing the levels of collaboration with patients, caregivers and advocacy organisations. These collaborations are the front line to identifying ways to bridge the academics of clinical research with the day-to-day realities associated with clinical trial participation. As a result, clinical trials are more inclusive, incorporate innovative solutions to ease participation, reflect endpoints and outcomes data most relevant for patients and, as a result, accelerate the pace of developing new healthcare solutions. Patient centricity can be defined as ‘the commitment to listen and translate patient insights into actions that develop new healthcare solutions with meaningful outcomes, address unmet needs, and improve health-related quality of life’.1 Perhaps at no other time in history, has the need to work together with patients and healthcare communities been more important. These collaborations ideally begin in the early stages of scientific research and continue through all aspects of a medicine’s development. The pandemic, economic, and geopolitical crises have established new norms and created new challenges for healthcare interactions, clinical trial participation, health-related decision making and access. These dynamics have increased the need for personalised and shared decision-making and accelerated the pace of innovation. It has also brought to light health disparities among traditionally underserved and diverse communities which need to be urgently solved.2,3 As such, understanding firsthand, the health-related experiences and priorities of patients, their loved ones, and caregivers – and collaborating with them and their communities – is essential. As an example, in 2021 alone, our4 collaboration with patients spanned over 100 patient advocacy organisations across 33 countries and their support helped inform and align 100% of our clinical development programs.4 These important and diverse engagements identified the most pressing priorities for patients & investigator sites so that teams were able to implement effective study site-centric solutions thus making clinical trials more inclusive and accessible for participation.

Additionally, collaborations informed endpoints and outcomes to help our researchers answer patients’ most pressing questions related to health care options. Despite the adversity of the pandemic, research organisations that co-created study designs and logistical solutions continued to accelerate the development of health care solutions. Thanks to these partnerships, it was possible to improve the pace of study execution and enrollment compared to industry benchmarks despite the challenges.5 Patients and their stakeholders are key advisors to research teams and therefore it is imperative that the industry listen and act. When it is made a priority, it is reasonable to see that 100% of all ‘patient’ studies reflect designs that better integrate with real life. Innovation exists and continues to evolve so that easy-to-use remote and digital capabilities are systematically built into each trial. And the industry should not stop there. Investments in the development of other innovations such as digital biomarkers hold the potential to integrate research into a participant’s daily life. This not only helps reduce logistical challenges but also helps enable data integrity, while ensuring data privacy and the advancement of science when access to a trial site may create an undue burden, such as distance to travel.