Patients’ associations have been playing a vital role in promoting patient’s welfare and in improving the quality of life of people and families affected by certain health conditions. In fact, they’ve been collaborating with various institutions and pharmaceutical companies to achieve better health outcomes. But how can positive patient association – pharmaceutical company relationship benefit the stakeholders of the current healthcare landscape?
As stated in the WHO Declaration of Alma Ata in 1987, “The people have the right and duty to participate individually and collectively in the planning and implementation of their health care.”. This right can be upheld by promoting health literacy through disease awareness and education campaign, which are known to be some of the important roles of pharmaceutical companies as a way of disseminating information to patients.
Moreover, health literacy also promotes empowerment and shared decision-making. This means that patients, with the help of physicians, will be encouraged to take an active role in making treatment decisions based on their preferences, medical evidence and clinical judgment. Thus, improved adherence to and effectiveness of the treatment can be expected. With sufficient knowledge, they will be able to gain independence in managing their condition. Furthermore, given the fact that people with first-hand experience are considered as ‘experts’ in terms of what it is to live with certain conditions, they will also be able to give peer support to help others who have the same illness.
Aside from this, another role of pharmaceutical companies is to develop more effective medicines through extensive clinical trial and research. To make this possible, they will need a wider patient network for drug trial recruitment and outreach. In addition, through organizations, pharmaceutical companies could get important insights from “expert” patients on the conduction of the trials themselves, such as by making informed consent forms comprehensible for average patients. Such goals can only be achieved by establishing positive mutual relationship with associations as it deepens the pharmaceutical companies’ understanding of patients and their needs.
On the other hand, patient organizations can also act as government steering mechanism to improve programs and change policies by incorporating their views and preferences in recalibrating risk-benefit framework in pre-market review of drugs or devices. In return, timely access to new and innovative drugs will be ensured.
To sum up, the benefits of positive patient association – pharmaceutical company relationship all boil down to a single aim of achieving better health outcome. As a result, we can expect an optimization in healthcare utilization and expenditures, which makes the society more capable of supporting the uninsured and underserved population.