Lilly, J&J-partnered patient empowerment campaign hits the streets

The first-ever "Patients Have Power" magazine will be distributed across the country as part of Clara Health's new effort to encourage patient empowerment in clinical trials. (Clara Health)

The "Patients Have Power" campaign is hitting the streets in its second year, adding boots on the ground to its digital push. The re-upped effort has patient ambassadors and partners, including pharma companies such as Eli Lilly, Roche's Genentech and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, getting the word out in local communities across the country and distributing a new magazine with patient stories and art.

The “Hospitals to Hair Salons” campaign was created by clinical trial intermediary Clara Health, and it kicks off this week with a Twitter chat that will include pharma partners’ voices and input. Clara’s business model is built on helping patients explore, find and enroll in clinical trials that fit their conditions and needs. The new campaign advocates for patient empowerment in treatment and in clinical trials.

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“In the obsession around technology and everyone being glued to their phones, we do feel there has been a loss of actual real community outreach and grassroots efforts,” Lilly Stairs, Clara’s head of patient advocacy, said. “We want to marry online and offline techniques to really raise awareness of clinical trials.”

Last year’s inaugural campaign focused on digital, although there were some local events in and around the Boston area. The campaign garnered more than 5 million online impressions and saw some 50 organizations participate, along with hundreds of patient advocates.

While helping patients own their treatment journey and clinical trial needs is at the core of the campaign, so is a message for pharma companies. That is, patients can and should inform clinical trial design and recruitment.

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“There is often a divide between the patient community and the pharma community where neither side (understands) each other as well as they could. One of the hurdles pharma is beginning to clear, but has yet to fully clear, is that patients and their voices can be data," Aaron Jun, head of marketing at Clara, said, adding, "We’re trying to combat the idea that the patient viewpoint is somehow soft or undereducated or subjective. Patients’ voices are actionable objective data for pharma.”

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