EyeForPharma, Philadelphia – Andy Schmeltz, Senior Vice President of Patient & Health Impact at Pfizer Innovative Health took to the #efpphilly stage to share how his team is doubling down on its commitment to put patients first.

Schmeltz said, “those of us with business backgrounds could work in a lot of different industries. We’ve come here for a reason …. because we believe our work will make an important impact for society. You get rewarded here by seeing patients benefit.”

Putting the patient at the center really makes that difference. Pharma wasn’t the first to lead the way. It was the patient advocacy community that had to fight for all the stakeholders to line up. Schmelz said, think about the impact we’ve been able to have in categories like HIV, turning that disease from a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease.

The impact that is possible when all the stakeholders line up around the patient, it’s really powerful.

There are three macro trends stretching Pfizer’s thinking:

  • Costs: Rising healthcare costs around the world are stretching budgets and bifurcating medical costs from medicine costs.
  • Outcomes: Moving from an environment where medicines are valued for providing treatments to focusing only on those that deliver outcomes.
  • Design: Transformation of passive patients to empowered patients who are activated but also dealing with new pain points created by the consumerism of plan design.

The paradigm around how care is delivered is changing. What got us here is not going to enable us to be successful in the future. We have to operate differently in the new game.

Pfizer has adopted a “Patient’s First Triple Win” to guide all their work:

  • Their single most important goal is to demonstrate value to patients
  • Then: healthcare professionals and systems
  • Finally: the company and shareholders

Schmeltz recognized that Pfizer isn’t the first to put patients at the center but he’s personally driving change to link it and integrate it into every thing they do. Some examples:

R&D: Only pursue break-through treatments that address significantly unmet needs for patients as best in class or first in class.

  • For example, their PCSK-9 was in phase 3 trials, meeting planned end points. But, it was a “Me, too” drug with some early flags about patient burden. Under the Triple Win paradigm, they discontinued the program.
  • On the other hand, gene therapy is a significant focus under Triple Win. It offers curative therapies to patients whose genetic mutations would have otherwise caused them to live with expensive, challenging life-long disease.

Trials: Patient-focused end points are incorporated in all trial design. That’s possible in part because patients are included in the review and development of those protocols.

  • In Parkinson’s Disease trials, Pfizer partnered with IBM to create sensors that will track the impact of new drugs on patients bodies and lives. Those new tools will allow them to create novel end points to accelerate the development of drugs and the positive impact for patients.

Commercialization: Pfizer’s focus is on how they can create better outcomes for patients – whether that’s through adherence or adjunct support.

  • Quitters Circle is adjacent support for people using Chantix to stop smoking. It was developed in part because Pfizer knew that counseling and support can double someone’s chance of successfully quitting. 150,000 people have already used it.

Pfizer has restructured into 6 patient centered business units, like vaccines or oncology. Each is customized to meet the needs of the patients in the therapeutic areas they serve

That’s changed how Pfizer measures and monitors progress.

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at trends.health)

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.