A GSK initiated Patient Support Programme (PSP) is an organized programme implemented by or on behalf of GSK that involves direct or indirect (via a third party) contact with the patient or carer with the aim of helping them to access and/or manage the patient’s medication and positively impact their disease and therapy outcomes.
Description of the case
In 2018 GSK organized 8 Insight Meetings titled “Living with severe asthma: what’s its impact in the daily life, and what are your expectations from the currently available treatment options?”.
The purpose was to collect the most important needs for patients suffering from severe eosinophilic asthma (totally about 50 patients) under treatment with mepolizumab.
All the insights were analyzed. During the Insight Meeting Patients claimed the impossibility to conduct a “normal” life with severe eosinophilic asthma, also because of the complexity of the daily management of their disease and comorbidities.
In particular, two main unmet needs raised: difficulty of patients to go to the hospital center (home-center distance) and telephone counseling to receive psychological support.
In Italy, in the current clinical practice, mepolizumab is administered to severe eosinophilic asthma patients in a limited number of specialist centers authorized to prescribe biological drugs.
GSK proposed to the 2 major Italian Asthma Patient Groups 2 different types of PSP. The first focused on psycho‐emotional support, the second on homecare service. They appreciated both proposals, expressing the priority of the second one.
The aim of the PSP is to offer the treatment of mepolizumab by specialized nurse in a more accessible way, in a place that is close and familiar to the patients – their home – in agreement and according to the prescription and a scheduled/planned supervision of the specialist centers.
Type(s) of patient (advocates) involved
The “Voice of the Patients” raised from 8 Insight Meetings and involved about 50 patients with severe eosinophilic asthma willing to take part to the Insight Meeting. They were contacted through the collaboration with their HCPs.
PSP currently involves 20 large centers at national level that expressed their need (because of high number of patients with severe eosinophilic asthma and complex geographic conditions) for about 200 patients with severe eosinophilic asthma responding to the criteria performed by their treating physicians and only patients already on mepolizumab treatment, for at least 6 months.
The PAGs were also involved in preparing and approving the relevant materials (Patient registration form and Privacy-Informed Consent, PSP information leaflet for patient, Satisfaction questionnaire).
Benefits of patient involvement
The project aims to the following objectives:
- for the patients:
- support to patients with serious health condition and co-morbidities that impact their mobility;
- time saving and better accessibility compared to specialized centers and time flexibility for the appointment;
- familiar setting (the name “Aria di Casa” is suggestive both for easy-breathing and for home atmosphere)
- 24/7 dedicated telephone line
- better adherence
- for the centers:
- an integrated management of patient care through a joint collaboration;
- better management of overloads that are due to the administration procedure.
- Patient Advocacy Group:
- the possibility to participate to an innovative project with an active role in bringing patient perspectives along all steps
- enhance their visibility to patients with severe asthma
- for the pharmaceutical industry:
- improve the adherence and appropriateness
- reputation for delivering an innovative project
- increase dialogue, trust and mutual respect between patients and other stakeholders
Challenges and barriers
The main key barriers/challenges faced are:
- mitigate any possible conflict of interest and avoid any influence on HCP’s prescribing decision through appropriate governance measures and clear criteria for the enrolment in the PSP
- guarantee that the PSP is not promotional in nature and ensure the transparency
The essential key learning is that designing a project trying to focus on patient’s perspective is totally different from a direct engagement in the real life. When patients are around a table and express their experience and insights, the outcomes can be unexpected and more effective.
The functions involved in the company should be activated as soon as possible to reach an agreement on the management of every aspect of the PSP and work in a synergic way. It is necessary to strengthen the culture on Patient Engagement activities within the Company to acquire or refine the knowledge for streamlining the PSP activation processes at different stages.