By Joye Bramble PhD
Exton Site Head and Vice President,
Biopharmaceutical Development at Eisai US
Our scientific understanding of cancer has undergone a significant transformation over the last few decades. We now know so much more about the complex mechanisms of the disease and the value of taking an individualized approach to care.
Today, a multifactorial approach carried out by an integrated care team can identify key facts that collectively create a detailed picture of the patient’s condition. What is the type of cancer? How early or late stage is the disease? Are there genetic mutations? What is the patient’s general health status? What is the best therapeutic approach? An understanding of each patient’s unique situation is critical to developing a personalized cancer treatment plan intended to extend life for as long as possible with minimal negative impact on quality of life.
Along with scientific advances, we also now have a greater appreciation that treating cancer goes far beyond therapeutics. We need to better understand how we can support a patient’s non-treatment needs – from the emotional, psychological and spiritual to nutrition to wellness and even financial needs.
Eisai's corporate philosophy includes human health care (hhc) by bringing employees together with patients and caregivers to gain a deeper understanding of their unique experiences and concerns, as well as to pick up on their thoughts and feelings that might not always be expressed in words. This time together and extended conversations ensure that each Eisai employee can strategically work to address the unmet needs of this community.
As part of last year’s hhc activity, team members at our Exton, Pennsylvania, campus worked with the advocacy organization Unite for HER to better understand this patient community. Unite for HER works to ensure that every person with breast or ovarian cancer feels the support of a loving community and has access to comprehensive education, services and tools that enrich their health and well-being. This patient population is important for Exton team members to listen to and learn from. In addition to having a sophisticated biologics production facility, the Exton campus is also home to the Epochal Precision Anti-Therapeutics Discovery Center used to develop precision oncology therapies. Joining forces provided a unique opportunity for Eisai employees to interact with breast and ovarian cancer survivors and to listen, learn and ideate.
These incredible individuals shared their experiences with us and gave us a much greater understanding of the challenges they faced and how they were able to move forward. Many of them were delighted to learn that Eisai wanted staff to have more direct interaction with patients and caregivers – they didn’t know of other companies that were listening in the same empathic way.
What makes our hhc commitment so impactful is that it is more than just talking and listening. We also see this as an opportunity to work closely with these remarkable individuals to develop ideas that Eisai could pursue to better address the varied needs of people living with breast and ovarian cancer. Following the listening session, speakers and 125 employees were divided into 19 teams to brainstorm ideas that were sparked by those initial conversations. To maximize the opportunity for all, the teams included individuals who don’t always work together, ensuring a diversity of thought and perspectives. Several ideas from these brainstorming sessions are now being progressed for consideration and funding.
We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from Unite for HER. Through our many meetings, conversations and brainstorms, we are hopeful that we can convert our shared passion into positive change. These conversations are vital to our pledge to fulfill our hhc promise: “We give our first thoughts to patients and their families and to helping increase the benefits health care provides.” With our continued dedication and support, Eisai plans to make a genuine difference in the lives of patients with cancer and those touched by this disease.