Phacilitate 2020 was jam-packed with inspiration, motivation, and confirmation that what we are doing is making an impact on patient lives now and into the future. We attended several educational sessions, met with many scientists, and had countless conversations about the future of immunotherapy. Here are some of our top Phacilitate 2020 highlights.
2020 and Beyond: It’s All About the Patient
The opening session on Tuesday evening offered an interesting perspective never heard before in a Phacilitate opening session: the patient perspective.
Joan Finnegan, a cystic fibrosis patient and advocate, shared her experiences growing up in ‘the dark ages of CF care and research’ and how she is now partnering with drug manufacturers to ensure patients have a seat at the table.
This patient focus was a main theme throughout many of the week’s sessions.
Patient Access Tops the Charts in 2019
Susan Nichols, CEO of Falcon Therapeutics, kicked off the plenary session on Wednesday morning with a review of the top 10 events of 2019. As no surprise, the top event of the year was patient access. Cell and gene therapies are incredibly expensive (for example, ZolgensmaⓇ is priced at $2.1 million) which is a big concern for patients and healthcare providers.
Greater efforts are being made to include the voice of patients in drug and therapy development. It’s not enough to simply have a patient on the board — our industry must work directly with patients to ensure their voices are heard.
Another highlight of the event was the focus on manufacturing technologies. Ten percent of patients for whom KymriahTM is manufactured do not receive the therapy, and other patients receive a product that does not meet specifications (though we should mention that the FDA set specifications that were not met during clinical trials of Kymriah).
While this is only one example, it highlights the difficulty in manufacturing autologous therapies. Manufacturers are building new sites to meet demand and exploring new technologies to streamline production and achieve greater efficiency.
Fun in the Sun
Phacilitate wasn’t all business. Here’s a photo from the Phacilitate yacht party, a sunset cruise with stunning views of the Miami skyline.