11/17/2016  |  Posted By:

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend MassBio & Sanofi Genzyme’s event entitled “No Borders: A Conversation on Global Humanitarian Programs.

The overarching theme resided in the notion that we cannot simply ship free drugs abroad and call it a day. Biotech and pharma companies must work collaboratively with key stakeholders to help underserved communities build sustainable healthcare systems.

The featured case study at the event highlighted the 16-year strong partnership between Sanofi Genzyme and Project Hope in Egypt. Upon the partnership’s inception, no physician had ever treated a patient with Gaucher Disease. Today, Egypt has seven centers of excellence for Gaucher treatment across a country because of their remarkable collaboration to not only deliver life-saving treatments, but to help contribute to building a sustainable healthcare infrastructure.

So how did they do it? The seasoned panelists offered the audience some compelling insights on building successful humanitarian programs abroad:

 

  1. Understand the unmet need: No one program will ever be the same. Spend time evaluating what the distinct unmet needs are of a country or community. Do patients need access to treatment? Are HCPs hungry to learn but don’t have the resources? Are local officials aware of the prevalence of this disease? Dig deep to uncover the answers.
  2.  “Go deeper in fewer places as opposed to more shallow around the world”:  President & CEO of Project Hope Dr. Thomas Kenyon recommends committing a strong arsenal of funds and resources to a small group of communities as opposed to trying to be everywhere and offer a limited amount of resources across the board. To be effective, it is critical to fully immerse in these global communities to truly make an impact.
  3. The more partnerships, the better: Don’t limit yourself to a specific type of partnership. Keep an open mind to working with partners across the industry from NGOs to diagnostic groups and scientists. Be comfortable building as you go – if you have common objectives, go for it. 
  4. Listen: Different countries and cultures may have varying perspectives outside the realm of what you might be used to. Genuinely listen and when it comes time to present your ideas, be sure to incorporate their perspectives to ensure they understand their voice is being heard.

At JPA, we’ve been lucky enough to work with clients engaging with patients around the world and across therapeutic areas. We look forward to applying these key learnings to our work with clients.

I’ll leave you with some inspirational words from panel moderator, Nina Dudnik, Founder & CEO of Seeding Labs, “never forget that we are doing this work because we want to help people around the world. International Patient engagement is good karma AND good business.”