Partnering with patients: An interview with Michael Evers and Ken Getz

PatientsLikeMe and the nonprofit Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) recently announced a new partnership with the global healthcare leader Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) to raise awareness about the benefits of participating in clinical trials.

Michael Evers, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Patient Advocacy at PatientsLikeMe, and Ken Getz, Founder and Board Chair of CISCRP and an associate professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine, share their views on why spotlighting “Medical Heroes” (those who “give the gift of their participation in clinical trials” to advance medical knowledge) and increasing awareness about clinical trial opportunities will help get the best medicines to patients faster.

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Michael Evers                           Ken Getz


What’s this partnership all about?

ME- Given our missions and beliefs in the power of clinical research, it simply made sense for our three companies to collaborate. It’s an exciting alliance – and the first for PatientsLikeMe where we’re partnering with a pharma leader like Sanofi and a nonprofit like CISCRP to do a widespread awareness campaign on the power of research participation. For example, with our 200,000-member community and Clinical Trial Awareness tool, we’ll be able to match patients with relevant Sanofi trials and work with CISCRP to provide educational materials about the clinical trial process. Similarly, our partners are interested in directing their clinical trial participants to PatientsLikeMe where they can use tools to better manage their disease while participating in real-time research every day. Like I said, there was a lot of synergy here.

KG- We all share the same goal – to empower patients with information that helps them make informed decisions about whether to participate in clinical research and ultimately to ensure that the right treatments make it to the patients who need them in an efficient manner. This partnership is really about an integrative approach to empowering patients through closer collaboration with research sponsors, patient networks and a nonprofit educator.


Can you tell us a little about these “Medical Heroes?”

KG- CISCRP launched this groundbreaking public service campaign back in 2008 to portray the image of the clinical research participant as a Medical Hero. The Medical Heroes campaign provides recognition for the profound “gift of participation,” while raising awareness of the participant’s significant contributions to advancing public health. Clinical study volunteers are medical heroes found in ordinary, everyday places. Even though they advance public health, these medical heroes are under-acknowledged and under-appreciated.

ME- The Medical Heroes campaign that CISCRP has developed is so powerful. It’s an inspirational way to show how people’s participation in clinical trials is such a selfless gift and crucial part of advancing medicine for everyone. What struck a chord with us is how well this campaign described many of our members – those who participate in real-time research every day by logging onto PatientsLikeMe and sharing data about their experiences.


What else do you want people to know about this partnership or what’s ahead?

KG- It’s widely known that clinical trials are less efficient and are taking longer to complete. Patient recruitment and retention is extremely challenging and a major contributing factor to study delays. The main goal of this collaboration is to leverage the power of interactive communities with outreach and educational materials to truly engage patients as partners in advancing medical knowledge. Ultimately, we hope that this collaboration will demonstrate a new approach to improving recruitment and retention rates and to help reduce study delays. The patient is waiting for new and better treatments – and expects this from all of us.

ME- Ken said it well – this is all about engaging patients as partners. That’s the only way we can get to better research, better treatments and better medicine. The more Medical Heroes there are contributing to research, the faster we can get there. That’s a win for everyone.

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