Barcelona 2015

Mar 24, 2015 - Mar 26, 2015, CCIB, Barcelona

Your Customer is in Charge.

When Interests Align: Partnering with Patients Associations

We recently met with Dr Lutz Bonacker, Vice President at CSL Behring to discuss collaboration between pharma and patient associations and the impact of this collaboration in improving the lives of patients with rare diseases and serious medical conditions such as haemophilia.



eyeforpharma: If our priority is to add further value to patients, what does greater stakeholder collaboration allow you to do? Why is it necessary? Which partnerships are you planning to prioritize into 2015?

Lutz Bonacker: The most immediate benefit to all parties involved in a collaboration is the synergies that can develop when interests align. The various parties bring their own individual perspectives and priorities on the opportunity at hand, which can lead to the emergence of new, different, and often improved, ways of achieving common goals.

That synergy is the thing that creates economies of scale in terms of leverage, fresh ideas that excite people about the future, and rejuvenation when the inevitable challenges crop up along the implementation pathway on a given project.

CSL Behring values all the excellent collaborations it has with patient organizations and other professional associations and will continue to place priority on working with those that are genuinely committed to helping to bring meaningful improvements to people who have rare or serious health conditions that we can address with our high quality therapies.

eyeforpharma: How do you see your company working with healthcare associations for better patient outcomes on a local and wider level? Specifically, how are you working that might be different from how other pharma companies are doing this?

Lutz Bonacker: CSL Behring engages with healthcare associations and patient organizations on a number of levels around the globe. We tend to be selective in what sponsorship support we grant to ensure that our involvement will actually bring sustained value to patients. We are experts in the rare disease space. Therefore, we are well acquainted with the special circumstances and needs that can challenge the individual who has a rare medical condition and who may go many years without having an accurate diagnosis or treatment for their condition. Bringing those treatments through development and onto the market, studying the benefits and risks at each step along the way, and educating healthcare practitioners, payors, and prospective patients are some of the areas that lend themselves to productive collaboration with other organizations.

eyeforpharma: Do you have a specific example of a recent initiative whereby you have experienced better outcomes through collaboration? Why did it work?

Lutz Bonacker: A good example would be the ongoing collaboration that CSL Behring has in place with the World Federation of Hemophilia. The WFH partners with local patient associations and with governments to bring diagnosis, training and access to products to patients worldwide.

In 2009, our company was the first to commit to a multi-year agreement to donate a sizeable volume of valuable hemophilia medication to countries that are part of the WFH’s Global Access Program (GAP).

The GAP is a terrific initiative that aims to achieve three things:  Close the gap between the number of people born with hemophilia and those who reach adulthood; close the gap between the estimated and actual number of people known with bleeding disorders; and close the gap between the need versus the availability of treatment products.

Approximately 20 countries have participated to date. Clearly, this type of engagement brings immediate and immeasurable benefits to patients who receive the therapy. The WFH’s strong commitment to people with hemophilia and other bleeding disorders has made the GAP a true success. CSL Behring has renewed its involvement with it for an extended period.        

We also collaborate with the Jeffrey Model Foundation working with patients with Primary Immunodeficiency in order to ensure that patients have access to therapies and have the option to be diagnosed and treated. That’s probably one of the biggest values we can provide – to facilitate access for patients

eyeforpharma: On a macro-level, what do you think is the main challenge in pharma for successful joint collaborations?

Lutz Bonacker: Finding the right balance between 1. Supporting worthy collaborations and joint ventures and 2. Investing commercial proceeds from the sale of products back into research and development of therapies is probably one of the most difficult decisions facing many pharmaceutical executives. How much support of external partnerships is enough? When is it time to phase out of the collaboration and into something else? How does one measure success in these arrangements, and then make rational decisions about whether to increase or decrease spending? Each dollar spent in support of a joint collaboration may be a dollar that could be placed toward developing a needed medicine or supplemental indication. The choices are not always clear-cut.

eyeforpharma: Do you see Value-Added Services playing an important role for the future of pharma? Or will this rapidly develop into something more than value-add?

Lutz Bonacker: If you define value-added services as services enhancing patients’ access to our products, their safety, efficacy and convenience, then yes they play an important role. These services have to be linked to the core of the value we are providing to patients, physicians and payers. A good illustration of this concept exists in designing easy, safe ways for patients and their physicians to administer a particular therapy. Outcomes could include better compliance with a treatment regimen, fewer complications, and convenience leading to a better quality of life.

We have a lot of IV or subcutaneous therapies so developing IV therapies is a value added service, helping ease the dosing schedule, taking away handling steps and extending the shelf life of hemophilia coagulation factors are all value-added services as they all assist the overall efficacy of the product.

eyeforpharma: Can a company like yours somehow incentivize these types of collaborations and patient-focused partnerships?

Lutz Bonacker: It is always best when collaboration happens in what I call an “organic fashion,” that is, when a need for new medical treatment or some critical service emerges and multiple groups or individuals recognize the importance of joining forces to fulfill that need. To be successful in the long term, a patient-focused partnership must be based on a genuine unmet medical need.  If this need is not there, then there is no path to success.  It won’t have lasting impact and won’t be sustainable in the long term.

eyeforpharma: Where can pharma make the most impact on the patient in your opinion?

Lutz Bonacker: Having a positive and meaningful influence on the health of other people really comes down to, first, understanding what is needed so that solutions can be developed. It’s important, for example, to know what treatment options currently exist for people with a given set of medical conditions, and to have a deep understanding of how well those options are working in bringing about positive outcomes in public and individual health. Then, for a company, it’s about making a series of decisions and choices about what, if anything can and should be developed in the lab that will improve on those outcomes. Finally, bringing a safe, efficacious, beneficial therapeutic solution to market is where the greatest impact can be achieved.

eyeforpharma: Is there something you personally want to be recognized to have achieved during your time with the company?

Lutz Bonacker: At CSL Behring we are all focused on helping patients with rare and serious diseases. I can only accomplish things together with the engaged and talented colleagues working at CSL Behring.  I am proud of what we, as a company, are doing which includes keeping products such as a Factor X available for a very, very rare disease, and providing Factor XIII for more than half a decade  free of charge to patients needing this option in the US.  These are thing that I believe CSL Behring should be recognized for.


Dr Lutz Bonacker will be speaking at eyeforpharma Barcelona, 24-26th March 2015. For more information on his presentation, click here.


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Barcelona 2015

Mar 24, 2015 - Mar 26, 2015, CCIB, Barcelona

Your Customer is in Charge.