Helen Gray, Medical Director, EMD Serono Research and Development Institute, Inc.
Helen Gray strongly believes the first-person patient perspective matters. That is because she understands that authentic patient communication is best conducted from patient to patient. So, when she recognized that there was a disease education void within the MS community outside of the U.S., she took action.
Helen worked with Snow Companies to launch the Global MS Patient Ambassador Program in 2013. Since its inception, almost 30 patient leaders have been initiated into the program. The goals are to connect people living with multiple sclerosis with each other, and for payers, regulators, internal employees at Merck, and external advocacy leaders to hear the patient voice. And the Global Patient Ambassador Program serves as the launch pad for educational initiatives conducted by Merck.
For any pieces intended for a patient audience, Helen will seek program participants’ viewpoint and insight. The Patient Ambassadors are involved in content and campaign discussions from kick-off to execution, with live patient storytelling and live patient interviews serving as the central tactics of these efforts.
The program spans several different markets in a very quickly evolving regulatory landscape. While the program presented many challenges along the way, Helen has demonstrated the resourcefulness needed to overcome them by strategically partnering with stakeholders who are invested in the same cause. This way, the initiative continues to gain ground and expand.
In 2017, there were 160 Patient Ambassador engagements reaching around 70 countries, and 2018 activity is similar. Primarily, these engagements pertained to internal speaking opportunities, content development, and participation at conferences and congresses, but program participants also made important contributions to the approval and launch of MAVENCLAD® (cladribine tablets) outside the U.S.