Latin America Awards 2015

May 7, 2015 - May 7, 2015, Miami

The eyeforpharma Latin America Awards recognize those in the pharmaceutical industry who are driving pharma forwards not just with higher short-term profits, but with better customer innovation, value and outcomes leading to longer-term success.

The Power of Education: Prevention, Patients & a Personal Mission

Lilly NCD partnership is fighting the rising burdens of NCD through prevention, education & self-management.

Catherine Almeida, NCD Partnership Program Officer at Lilly



Eli Lilly is in the running for ‘Most Valuable Patient Initiative’ with their ‘Lilly NCD Partnership’ program at the eyeforpharma Latin America Awards, an inaugural ceremony to mark the achievements of those contributing to industry progress in Latin America. Catherine Almeida has been heavily involved with their progressive work in Brazil, which focuses on diabetes education, management, and prevention, and was kind enough to give us an interview to learn more.

Global Initiative Based On Local Needs

While Catherine’s project is based within Brazil, Lilly’s NCD Partnership program is actually a global initiative that works to alleviate the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), present in India, Mexico, as well as South Africa. An interesting feature of the global structure is that there is no set program format, Catherine explained, “Each country has completely different projects. When we decided to invest in these countries we had to decide completely different things. It really depends on the individual local needs.”

In Brazil, Lilly is partnering with institutions in several on-going projects to increase awareness of preventative lifestyle choices for diabetes; allowing patients to self-manage their disease. Within Brazil they are working with the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Institute for Children with Diabetes.

Prevention is key

Within the university partnership, they are conducting randomized studies amongst pregnant woman measuring the development of type II diabetes post-partum. The study is sizable; involving 7,000 participants with the goal to evaluate how lifestyle changes can reduce chances of developing diabetes. Groups within the study receive lifestyle information that is also reinforced through in-person access to physical educators. Lilly have high expectations for this approach, with Catherine saying, “We want to turn this new model into a treatment protocol that can be implemented. Once this is in practice, we hope to prevent 40-50% of cases.”

It is much better to have a system that prevents, instead of paying for medicines and physicians to look after preventable disease”.

The pre-existing model does not include lifestyle support, if you are diagnosed with diabetes you have to look after your health on your own. Although there is an understanding that lifestyle changes could improve population health, doctors working within the public system do not have the time to reach out and proactively engage. Catherine hopes that their work will change this mentality, by demonstrating that engaging first will be cost-effective in the long run. “Spending this time is extremely important and can make a huge impact. It is much better to have a system that prevents, instead of paying for medicines and physicians to look after preventable disease”.

The second project is in partnership with the Institute for Children with Diabetes with the strategy of improving patient education by empowering mothers to spread knowledge within their families. The service will be free of charge to the patient, and has the objective of an 85% reduction of complications and hospitalization in Type I Diabetes patients through education.  They are currently working with 136 families in Porto Alegre and Fortaleza, in two randomized studies.

Working in partnership, Lilly have developed a series of 16 educational videos to train HCP’s that are working in underserved communities. This curriculum is designed to give the HCPs the information and strategies to pass on the education to mothers and patients within the host communities. The education will focus on disease information, nutrition, exercise guidelines and methods of insulin administration. Importantly, Lilly are funding this HCP training for free for all practitioners, whether they are in the public or private sector.

A key priority in both projects has been the evaluation phase, having comprehensive data on what is effective and ineffective has been a really important part of their advocacy strategy. Catherine speaks about the difficulty of this process, “We must advocate in order to scale up these initiatives. But it is hard to go to the government and say that they are not doing a good job. It's not that they don’t want to listen, but you to prove to them that we can improve the system working together, and this is why data is so important.”

Larger vision

A positive effect of this engagement has been that Lilly have managed to open doors and create relationships with government representatives as they have developed an understanding that Lilly isn’t just preoccupied with selling medicines. This was a strange shift at first, with many questioning the logic of their approach. It had seemed counter-intuitive that Lilly would want to engage with treatment prevention because, they of course have products that could benefit from a larger patient population.

We don’t just want to make a profit; we would rather work to match the right patient to the right product. If someone can be helped through prevention from getting a chronic disease, then we absolutely should work to do this.”

But Catherine phrases Lilly’s mission as part of a larger vision. “The prevalence is already very high, and it is a serious global problem. We want to be able to help not just the country, but also the patients with their outcomes. We don’t just want to make a profit; we would rather work to match the right patient to the right product. If someone can be helped through prevention from getting a chronic disease, then we absolutely should work to do this.”

I do really believe that we can impact the life of the patient and that we can have a better system that improves healthcare in Brazil.”

This is what the team plan to do, and over the next 2-3 years, the goal is to scale across the country. Having educational materials implemented into public protocol could have huge benefits for woman across the country, something that really drives Catherine.  Speaking not from a company perspective, Catherine opened up and we got a glimpse of what this work meant to her personally.

“I am really proud to be part of this, I understand that this is part of Lilly’s mission, but it is also part of my values, and being able to be part of this program and make this difference, I am really proud of this. I do really believe that we can impact the life of the patient and that we can have a better system that improves healthcare in Brazil.”


To view the Latin America Awards finalists, click here.


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Latin America Awards 2015

May 7, 2015 - May 7, 2015, Miami

The eyeforpharma Latin America Awards recognize those in the pharmaceutical industry who are driving pharma forwards not just with higher short-term profits, but with better customer innovation, value and outcomes leading to longer-term success.