Organisations such as Europa Uomo are playing an important role in representing the views and needs of men with prostate cancer to the pharmaceutical industry, says Chairman André Deschamps.
Having recently attended patient advisory meetings of the drug companies Janssen and Ipsen, Deschamps believes that the events – attended by representatives of people with many types of cancer and other illnesses – are helping companies better understand patient perspectives.
“The content of those meetings is seldom about drugs,” he says. “It’s about providing patient information that is genuinely useful and understanding the real needs of patients and how drugs and their side effects can impact them.”
“I think many companies are now beginning to realise that the information they get from the medical world about real needs is not necessarily the same as that they get from the patients. For example, it can be important for patients how a drug is taken – whether orally or intravenously, or via one tablet or many – but it is less important for clinicians because their main concern is that the drug is working in the body.”
Deschamps emphasises that drug companies are now very cautious about any activity that might be seen as marketing specific drugs to particular groups of patients. And patient groups rightly want to assert their independence and be clear that drug companies have no undue influence over them.
But the meetings provide an opportunity for Europa Uomo to speak on behalf of its member organisations and men with prostate cancer across Europe.
“What we discuss is the environment around drugs and care. I think it’s very useful for them because it seems as if every time we say something the reaction from pharma is ‘Oh, we hadn’t thought about that’!”