Lead, U.S. Commercial Patient Engagement and Marketing
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Even in the early days of DTC, Bonnie Perkins was among the few who advocated for better and more direct connection with the patient community. And she continues that mission at her latest company, Alexion, which focuses on rare diseases in the metabolic and the autoimmune/neurology space.
Bonnie initially headed the neurology patient marketing division and was determined to interact with patients across the entire journey. She started working with the anti-acetylcholine receptor antibody positive generalized myasthenia gravis (anti AChR+ gMG) patient community, which was the birth, two years ago, of the MG Stars program for Soliris (eculizumab).
The MG Stars program is a best-in-class partnership with patient and caregiver advocates to share experiences that inform and engage others in the community. Working with internal stakeholders across regulatory, compliance, and legal, Bonnie built trust and empowered the team to create this type of activity in a highly regulated environment. This is not a program about speaking engagements, it’s a genuine way to connect for both the patient and the company. Bonnie is currently expanding the program for the other neurology indication, and across the entire U.S. portfolio. Bonnie heads the effort to roll them out not as several distinct Star programs, but as a cohesive and streamlined patient engagement effort. This approach allows the needs of the organization, the specific business units, and the patient to be met, creating a win-win for all parties.
While all of Alexion’s business units deal with rare conditions, the company’s patient engagement programs are considered rather robust, with more than 40 Stars who volunteer their time. Thanks to this rich reservoir of patient experiences, the Stars program can offer frequent engagement opportunities, with web-based patient events, live patient outreach programs, and other opportunities. On a regular basis, Bonnie connects with program members to invite feedback from all the MG Stars.
In 2019, more than 600 people attended the live and web promotional programs across the country. That’s considerable for diseases this rare. Additionally, there were more than 60 non-promotional activities for the Stars, including many internal engagements, such as Alexion’s new-hire training, which helps keep patients as the company’s guiding star.