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  • Liz Scarcella

Centering the Patient in Biopharma R&D

Conversations concerning drug development and biopharma companies are highly prominent in today’s news headlines. Large players like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are often cited for their cutting-edge research and pipeline developments, as well as their FDA approvals and corporate financials. Alongside this continued interest in biopharma advancement, however, is a growing curiosity around integrative medicine. Integrative medicine is a field of practice based in holistic health and patient-centered care. It primarily focuses on preventative care by addressing a patient’s mental and physical needs, while also incorporating the patient’s opinion and lifestyle into the development of their treatment. Many patients crave collaboration with their practitioners, longing for greater input and shared perspectives, rather than short answers and one-pill solutions. Given this rising interest in integrative medicine, some biopharma companies are bringing the patient's perspective into their R&D process in innovative ways.

One such example is Jazz Pharmaceuticals, an Ireland-based biopharma company who has been promoting patient-centric drug development. Founded in 2003, Jazz has led the charge in the advancement of sleep treatments, with a particular focus on idiopathic hypersomnia (IH). Jazz has partnered with the Hypersomnia Foundation to launch the "I Have IH" campaign, which surveys patients and healthcare providers for nuanced perspectives on the disorder. By engaging with patients early-on in the R&D process, Jazz hopes to ensure that their treatment initiatives align and reflect patient needs. Furthermore, according to CEO Bruce Cozadd, Jazz's treatments will consider "patient health" beyond the parameters of their sleep condition by, for instance, understanding comorbidities like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. In this way, Jazz invests in the entire puzzle of a patient, rather than just one piece. 

 Integrating patient needs and perspectives into a company’s R&D approach benefits both parties. Patient-centered care expands biopharma’s platform of knowledge and innovation, while simultaneously addressing the unmet and underlying needs of a patient. Considering a patient’s health outside of their condition, while also acknowledging the role of social and lifestyle factors, allows companies to develop treatment strategies that improve overall outcomes for patients. By incorporating an integrative medicine perspective into traditional R&D, biopharma companies can meaningfully tailor their approach to the patients who wish to be heard.

Are you a biopharma company interested in learning more about patient-centric drug development? Brooks Hill Partners is a life sciences consultancy and early-stage health tech venture capital firm that partners with passionate companies across the biopharma and healthcare landscape. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you today. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedIn.  


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