Giving advocacy groups a platform to engage – the 2017 BIO Patient & Health Advocacy Summit

Oct 27, 2017
Giving advocacy groups a platform to engage – the 2017 BIO Patient & Health Advocacy Summit

Patients’ access to new medicines and cutting-edge drug research developments were among the issues discussed at the sixth BIO Patient & Health Advocacy Summit, held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. on October 2–3.

The annual event brings patient and provider advocacy organizations together with academia, regulators, members of the biotechnology industry and other stakeholders to discuss policy issues and share best practices in modern-day patient advocacy.

The biggest summit yet

Day one

This year, the Summit expanded its agenda to feature more sessions than ever before. The first day began with a pre-summit workshop focused on patient access to new medicines. Led by BioNJ President and CEO, Debbie Hart, the session placed attendees in the shoes of a company chief executive deciding how to maintain organizational growth while delivering medicines of value to patients.

Once they were warmed up, attendees took part in roundtable discussions and networking, followed by an educational session focused on patient-centric clinical trial design. Participating in this roundtable were members of the patient community, a cancer survivor and members of industry.

Participants ended the day with a choice of best practice seminars, one highlighting the importance of externally-led, patient-focused drug development meetings and another discussing patient advocacy on the state level and how to build successful state advocacy campaigns. Participating in these discussions were groups including Cure SMA, Lupus Foundation of America, NORD and the American Cancer Society.

Day two

Day two started with an educational session titled ‘Understanding the Science of Caregiving: Bringing the Caregiver’s Voice to the Forefront’ with the Caregiver Action Network launching a white paper on the caregiver experience. The session focused on the importance of caregivers and how industry can support them.

Wrapping up the main part of the summit was a fireside chat with Dr. Theresa Mullin – Director of the Office of Strategic Programs at the Food and Drug Administration and Marc Boutin, CEO of the National Health Council.  After the closing of the main program came another first for the event – a three-hour personalized medicine workshop. Two discussions took place – one on the personalized medicine landscape and one on barriers and opportunities – both of which convened leaders from the patient advocacy community and the biotechnology industry to discuss this emerging field of medicine.

Giving advocacy groups the opportunity to engage

Alongside an extended agenda, 2017 saw the introduction of a new one-on-one partnering system designed to connect larger companies with smaller groups. Effectively operating like speed dating for patient advocates, the system gave patient advocacy groups the chance to engage with large and influential stakeholders in their field – something that sits at the heart of the entire Summit experience, according to Brian Smith, Vice President of Alliance Development and External Affairs at BIO.

“The Summit is a fantastic opportunity for smaller advocacy groups to interact with healthcare stakeholders they otherwise would never meet,” said Smith. “All of the sessions are designed to spark discussion around some of the key issues in patient advocacy today and, as a whole, the event provides very valuable exposure for smaller companies.”

To find out more about this year’s BIO Patient & Health Advocacy Summit, visit the website here.

Giving advocacy groups a platform to engage – the 2017 BIO Patient & Health Advocacy Summit


Brian Smith is the Vice President of Alliance Development and External Relations at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) in Washington, DC.

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