February wouldn’t be February if we weren’t bombarded by Valentine’s Day media stories on what makes a solid or promising relationship. Though each season/romance guru may offer a unique take on the topic, there are some time-tested constants:  respect, shared goals, patience and two-way communications. And while the tenor and goals differ, the same constants that fuel solid personal relationships are also fundamental to successful pharma-advocacy collaboration.

In a time of increased advocate sophistication and heightened expectations from regulatory agencies, shareholders and advocates alike, true collaboration is about more than feeling good. It’s about good business.

Both our recent inVentiv Health PR Group report, “Sharing the Mission to Conquer Rare Diseases,” and a story in this month’s PharmaVoice  address how rare disease patient groups are at the forefront of innovation that matters to patients and their families. Both identify respect, shared goals and ample communication as key to successful partnership and both underscore how engagement is happening earlier and more often in the drug development process.

Out of necessity, rare disease advocates have been pioneers in forging new ways of bringing industry attention to patient needs and collaborating with industry to meet these needs. Some challenges they have taken on are naturally disease-specific. Yet industry as a whole can look to the rare disease space –the National MS Society, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, in particular – to see what success can look like when it comes to achieving shared goals across industry and advocacy.  It’s not all sunshine and roses. Motivation often comes from different places and yet, with perseverance and patience, meaningful, life-changing advancements are made.

Regardless of whether you are a lover of love or a misanthrope, chances are that if you’re past your teen years, you’ll agree that the strength of a romantic relationship shouldn’t be measured by what happens on Valentine’s Day alone. The same holds true for pharma-advocacy collaboration. True partnership should not be evaluated solely by what happens on any given awareness day but through year-round connectivity, transparency and authenticity.


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