Dr. Natalie Bohm
Medical Director of External Engagement, Pfizer UK
When we partner with these experts, we listen to their insights, revising the way our clinical trials are run, and how trial-related documents are written to ensure that our research truly aligns with the needs of those living with conditions and is accessible for all.
As well as improving how patients experience research, co-designing clinical research with people living with conditions works towards improving recruitment and retention in later trials.1 With a greater patient focus, and therefore a more successful clinical trial, we can reduce the time to availability for life-changing medicines.
"Patient insights are invaluable and are often revelations for researchers. Whether it’s revising informed consent documents to be better understood, or adapting research protocols, patients should be at the centre of shaping clinical trial design and delivery. When we engage with people living with conditions, their knowledge and experience enable us to make changes that have a positive impact. We need to engage with a diverse range of patient groups to enable people from all demographics and communities to have a voice in impacting clinical research."
In our work we partner with many different types of organisations, including patient groups and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) – a government organisation that funds and delivers research into health and care – to ensure patients are at the heart of clinical research and trial co-design.
We have a long-standing relationship with the NIHR,2 and in 2018 we collaborated on a new project when the NIHR piloted its Patient Engagement in Clinical Development Service. This new service connects life science companies with adult and paediatric patients who want to help shape clinical research.3
The NIHR connected Pfizer with GenerationR, a Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) based in Liverpool. Researchers collaborate with YPAGs like GenerationR to gather young people’s opinions to inform clinical research design and delivery.
Our researchers gained fascinating insights from those involved which resulted in real improvements in the design of our clinical trials and revisions to informed consent documentation. This really illustrated the importance of involving young people. Adit Bassi was part of GenerationR and says, "This was such a fantastic opportunity where researchers understood the benefits of listening to young people’s insights and experiences. YPAGs and patient groups are ready to continue collaborating, and the more people that are involved, the greater the healthcare improvements and outcomes. Young people want to help shape clinical research for future generations and partnering with researchers is a perfect way to do this.’"
Since the conception and completion of this pilot project, Pfizer has worked with the NIHR on 15 separate patient engagement partnerships. The partnership has been so successful that the Patient Engagement in Clinical Development Service was recently shortlisted for the ‘Most Valuable Collaboration’ award at Reuters’ Pharma Awards Europe 2020,4 a reflection of how we engage with patient communities in meaningful and managed ways.
In all clinical trials where Pfizer has partnered with UK patients through the NIHR, changes were made to the design, documentation, or delivery as a direct result of engagement. We’re proud of our existing partnerships and are continuing to expand our engagements across different stages of the medicines development cycle.
By placing patients at the heart of clinical trials we can improve medicines development. At Pfizer we will continue to prioritise this invaluable insight, building on our successful engagement activities to ensure UK patients and caregivers of all ages and from all backgrounds are involved in the design and delivery of clinical research.
NIHR. The balancing act: How patient engagement can improve recruitment and retention Accessed Jan 2023.
Pharma Times. Pfizer teams up with NIHR Accessed Jan 2023.
NIHR. Translating intention into action – Piloting the NIHR Patient Engagement in Clinical Development Service Accessed Jan 2023.
Reuters Events. Pharma Awards Europe 2020 Accessed Jan 2023.