People have always seemed to play a somewhat passive role in relation to their own health. However, since the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, it has become clear that health is not just about the sick; it concerns everyone. And it involves and affects many different aspects, long before we reach illness itself.
Nowadays, with access to huge amounts of data and everything just one click away, people look up information on issues related to self-care in general, as well as the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and processes. People have become more actively concerned with their wellbeing, and more in the sense that the WHO defines health.
This in turn raises some important challenges, since, as we all know, this sheer quantity of information often makes it hard to separate trustworthy information from that which is merely speculative, clearly false or just plain wrong. Examples these days are, sadly, too numerous to mention.
Be that as it may, the reality is that people do have access to more information. And, as a consequence of this and a more participative society, they want to be taken into account when decisions are made regarding their health. This not only includes aspects such as the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, but also the coverage of health systems and equity and equality between different population groups. People are no longer willing to be just regarded as sick and to passively follow certain instructions about the management of their disease. They now demand to be involved as early as possible in all decision-making related to their wellbeing and the processes that affect them. This is why an important movement has arisen among patients and their relatives, to form associations so that their voices and opinions have greater force and they can exert greater influence.
The pharmaceutical sector is a leading player in the health field and should therefore respond to this tendency. Until recently, drugs were developed from research that focussed on the most prevalent diseases, new scientific findings that allowed the identification of specific mechanisms of action and, finally, molecules or biological agents that could act on these mechanisms.
This dynamic has not disappeared, since identifying potential remedies for diseases is a key pillar of science. But the patient’s perspective is being included to a much greater degree. This has started with the demand for drugs for so-called rare diseases - those of low prevalence and therefore more complex to study and develop treatments for – and now touches on such areas as the form and instructions for administering drugs, the handling of adverse effects, the evaluation of treatment efficacy and the overall management of the disease or process. In fact, regulatory drug approval agencies, such as the EMA and FDA, are now recommending that patients participate in the decision-making for drug approval.
That, therefore, is why the close collaboration and participation of patients in the development of potential treatments is essential. And in Ferrer we understand this. We involve patients throughout, from the prioritization of pathologies, to the development of the concept, the form of administration, the design of the clinical studies and the evaluation of their effectiveness; in short, they participate in the whole value chain so that a treatment ends up being truly useful to those patients for whom it can provide a solution to a specific problem.
We believe, however, that we can still do more than add value to the drugs we create. We can try to individualize the therapy as far as possible for each patient and empower them in the management and control of their process. To this end, Ferrer is developing, thanks to cutting-edge technologies, support programs for patients and family members in specific processes. These programs are not a substitute for drugs, but they contribute complementary tools to provide a more comprehensive and complete approach to the pathology, thus offering greater efficiency of the pharmacological treatment.
This is our commitment to people: to care about their health, to work with them to develop the most comprehensive solutions to help ensure the highest possible state of wellbeing.