MSD has teamed up with the online patient community site ‘PatientsLikeMe’ to gauge the impact of psoriasis on patients, whilst also looking to improve outcomes.
Under the agreement, PatientsLikeMe will work directly with Merck’s clinical researchers and epidemiologists to analyse psoriasis patient-reported data.
The site has an active community of psoriasis patients, where nearly 2,000 people share data and stories to reveal what it’s like to have the disease and what they do to treat it. Health profiles, forum postings and journal entries highlight their experiences.
While patients interact to help improve their outcomes, the data they provide helps researchers learn how these diseases act in the real world and accelerate the discovery of new, more effective treatments.
Psoriasis is a non-contagious, chronic, autoimmune disease that appears on the skin and is associated with other serious health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and depression.
Many big pharma firms have already signed up to use the site, including Novartis and UCB. The Swiss company uses PatientsLikeMe as an online forum for post-transplant patients, whilst UCB uses it for bettering outcomes for people with epilepsy.
Both firms develop drugs for the disease and conditions they are discussing on PatientsLikeMe, and it is becoming both a new marketing tool for big pharma firms, and a unique way of harnessing real world data.
MSD owns the rights to psoriatic arthritis drug Simponi in Europe, Russia and Turkey and shares 50-50 rights with Janssen in the US.
The firm is also currently developing MK-3222, an anti-interleukin-23 monoclonal antibody candidate, for the treatment of psoriasis. The drug begun Phase III trials this year and is seen as a future blockbuster.
It is for this drug that MSD will be hoping to utilise the site for, and use the real world data coming from the online forums to help it further develop the treatment, whilst also allowing its name to be associated with a psoriasis drug.
This type of website interface can develop into a goldmine for pharma firms, as it affords them an in-depth look into the patient population of a treatment, something it cannot easily attain anywhere else.
Dr Sachin Jain, chief medical information and innovation officer at Merck, said: “Effective use of health information provides the path forward to patient-centered care and personalised medicine.
“Our collaboration with PatientsLikeMe is an important part of Merck’s strategy to establish and apply innovative solutions that improve disease management and enhance the patient experience,” Jain added.