Successful Patient Advisory Boards: What Sponsors Need to Know

Published on:
March 14, 2022
Written by:
Annabel de Maria Bosch, Giulia Pierini

Patient Advisory Boards (PABs) allow sponsor companies to capture detailed patient information to inform strategy and drug development. These meetings, made up of 5 to 8 patient experts on a specific topic, provide actionable feedback that can guide all stages of development and project prioritization, as well as improve research outcomes and de-risk early science.  

With patient engagement increasingly essential in the product development lifecycle, having direct access to the patient voice is critical. Additionally, because a PAB is such a transversal tool, it can address many lifecycle challenges at once. A single PAB can:  

  • Assess the relevance and feasibility of a clinical study, enhancing recruitment and reducing dropout 
  • Allow clinical and market access to test the relevance of specific PROs
  • Co-design the format of an early access program (EAP) 
  • Help marketing set up a tailored patient-centric strategy by co-creating solutions with patients 

When organized and facilitated well, a PAB can also improve speed to market and return on investment (ROI). Here are five essential keys to a successful PAB.

Engage the right patients at the right time

A successful PAB is one where the sponsor engages with the right patients in a timely manner to obtain actionable insights and immediately apply them to the strategy or trial. The PAB recruitment process is key to this – however, it may require some time to secure patients who can meet the expectations of the PAB. It is crucial to rely on experts in patient recruitment to timely develop the exclusion and inclusion criteria for the patient selection and ensure the recruitment process starts early enough to ensure the patients’ availability.

Create an effective discussion guide

Every Patient Advisory Board needs a discussion or moderator guide. Created specifically for each of the PAB meetings, this document is a key tool that outlines the structure of the discussion. Effective guides help facilitate a balanced meeting. Your guide must be detailed enough to drive conversation on all selected topics, while also considering the time—an equally important aspect of PAB meetings. You want to allow ample time for patients to express themselves, while also ensuring the meeting finishes in the allotted time without rushing. 

Discuss sensitive topics

Often sponsors don’t want to include topics like adverse events (AE) or risk/benefit trade-off because they feel like patients may not want to participate in the trial. However, if these topics are not fully explained or not explained well, patients can also be deterred. Avoiding conversation or not diving deep enough misses the opportunity to get key insights from patients on these more sensitive topics. For example, when it comes to AEs, sponsors and patients may differ on what they feel is an acceptable AE. A sponsor may consider dizziness to be a mild AE, but for a patient who drives to work every morning, this may not be acceptable.

Successful PABs facilitate free conversation on all topics, implementing the right trainings for the patients and using plain language summary (PLS) to ensure their understanding. Gathering patient insights on sensitive topics can be critical for patient-centric clinical development, a successful launch, and the implementation of post-launch strategies. 

To learn how patient engagement is evolving and what is next, we talked to Chief Patient Officer Annabel de Maria, industry expert in the field with over 25 year of experience.

The Evolution of Patient Engagement

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Leverage your PAB for a 360° impact

A PAB is a unique opportunity to discuss any aspect of drug development with patients. A critical misstep some sponsors make is thinking of the PAB in a silo. Patient engagement is a cross-functional set of activities, so for example, a meeting organized for clinical purposes can absolutely be leveraged to gain insight on market access, marketing, and medical information. This allows you to maximize the ROI of the PAB, as well as ensure a patient-centric strategy across the complete development lifecycle.

Fully integrate outcomes

PABs provide many important insights that often require analysis by the sponsor to effectively incorporate the actionable information into the overall project. Translating the outcomes into clinical protocols, market access, or marketing plan requires an overarching patient-centric vision that combines business requirements with the importance to cover the real unmet needs of the patient. 

Why partner with Alira Health  

Organizing a PAB requires preparation, strategy, and thoughtful execution. Providing patients with a positive experience while delivering the expected results for sponsors can be challenging if the advanced planning is not well-executed. Selecting the appropriate patients, creating a thorough discussion guide, and leveraging the meeting to provide insight on the full development lifecycle are all critical pieces to a successful PAB.

Alira Health’s continuum of services allows us to leverage our internal capabilities in clinical, market access, regulatory, and strategy to get the most out of each meeting with patients. This industry-leading approach delivers the most cost-effective and successful PAB outcomes. 

Our expertise and experience, combined with our global network of key stakeholders and patient organizations allow us to provide seamless, strategy-driven organization and execution of PABs. 

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