Helping Patients be #strongerthanMS: A Clinical Development Q&A

World MS Day - Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Development

Helping Patients be #strongerthanMS: A Clinical Development Q&A

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide and there is currently no approved cure. The pharmaceutical industry has been successful in creating treatment options to modify and manage the disease, but there is still a need for new and improved MS drugs.

The emotional burden of an MS diagnosis is draining on patients and their caregivers. To minimize this burden, UBC provides 360° support for your MS products and patients. By leveraging our extensive MS experience and industry knowledge, we operationalize clinical trials effectively, deliver high-touch patient care, and break down barriers to product access.

On May 27th, patient communities around the world will recognize World MS Day to raise awareness about MS and the impact it has on patients’ lives. In support of World MS Day, we have asked a few of our experts how their work helps patients be #strongerthanMS. This is the first part of the series. Click here to check out part 2.

Shazia Ahmad
Associate Director
Patient & Physician Recruitment & Retention

Q. Can you briefly describe your role at UBC?
I am an Associate Director within UBC’s Patient and Physician Services team. I help manage different projects, specifically those targeting MS patients. I oversee the recruitment and retention services for Phase III through Phase IV MS clinical trials as well as Late Stage Research MS projects, such as registries and observational studies. During my time at UBC, I have supported five MS programs – two of which are still ongoing. I have experience working with MS programs targeting adults living with MS as well as pediatric patients.

Q. What is UBC’s experience in clinical development for MS?
We have worked on every major MS drug in the clinical pipeline over the last 17+ years and utilize that experience to deliver global patient recruitment and retention offerings. Our dedicated MS recruitment specialists each have an average of more than 10 years of experience managing programs in this space.

Q. How is UBC supporting the development of MS medications?
We work with life science companies to help them develop a drug, take it through commercialization, and demonstrate its post-launch value and safety. We develop and execute investigator and patient communications and use proven methods to help increase enrollment and minimize patient drop-out. These tactics include: site materials, utilization of the Express Scripts’ pharmacy and medical claims database, and study websites with recruitment screeners, advertising, direct mail, text/email reminders, and retention mailers. UBC has successful relationships with several MS advocacy groups and online communities that have been pivotal to our success. We can also provide site feasibility and site selection services and have done outreach to more than 35,000 investigators.

Q. What are the main challenges with recruiting and retaining MS patients for clinical trials?
The main challenge is identifying patients that meet the correct criteria for the study. Our target outreach initiatives and the pre-qualifying screening have  helped us identify the most qualified patients for our MS studies. The pediatric MS patient population poses even more challenges than the adult MS population. Pediatric MS patients are extremely challenging to recruit because they are a very small patient population and parents often have reservations about enrolling children in a clinical trial. We provide tools to educate parents about the study and answer their questions. We also help build a sense of community and raise awareness through social media. For example, this Facebook page provides details about a pediatric MS study.

At UBC, we really pride ourselves on going above and beyond to keep these patients retained in a clinical trial. In support of World MS Day, our Patient and Physician Services team created a World MS Day toolkit for our sites to use as a way to keep them engaged and informed.

Q. What can be done to take the burden off patients and keep them engaged in the study?
A trip to the study site can be very stressful for patients, especially because sites tend to be spread out. We offer a global concierge service for MS patients and their caregivers to eliminate this travel burden.  Providing travel reduces burden on the patient and encourages compliance with study visits.

Contact us to discuss how our team can utilize our experience and expertise to support your MS product and patients.