As PhRMA members work around the clock to combat COVID-19, the pandemic has had a tremendous impact around the globe. But for those patients who are currently impacted by a health care condition, COVID-19 has been particularly challenging. Whether immunocompromised, actively receiving treatment or battling a chronic illness or other condition, the spread of COVID-19 has created increased obstacles for America’s vast and varied patient community.
Recently, I had the chance to virtually connect with four Voters for Cures advocates to hear how they are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual panel provided an opportunity for the group to discuss the current work being done by America’s biopharmaceutical research companies to develop new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, and also gave Voters for Cures advocates an opportunity to provide insight into how the virus has impacted their daily lives and discuss what a vaccine would mean to them.
The conversation included Jake, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who lives with mental health issues; Jenifer, a stage 4 breast cancer patient from Iowa; Stacy, a Florida patient who lives with sarcoidosis and a seizure disorder; and Sumaira, a young professional and activist in Massachusetts who suffers from neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.
Additionally, the conversation touched on several important points including:
- The importance of patient advocacy and the fact that the most valued voice in health care should always be “the voice of the patient.”
- The American biopharmaceutical industry’s tireless work to develop additional treatments, therapies, and a vaccine for COVID-19. As of August 7, 2020, there are more than 1,500 clinical trials testing COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Sponsors are trying a variety of approaches, including 1,432 clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments and 78 clinical trials testing a vaccine, with over 325 of these clinical trials taking place in the United States. Some of the trials are being conducted in multiple countries simultaneously.
- The substantial shifts in daily life for patients since the outbreak of COVID-19, including the stress and anxiety associated with isolation from friends and family, the risk of infection associated with simply running errands in public or visiting the doctor’s office.
- The gratitude from the patient community for the researchers and scientists working tirelessly to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
Listening to each of the advocate stories was so inspiring and put into perspective the importance of the biopharmaceutical industry to advance new treatments and cures for all patients and why we should not jeopardize it.
To learn more about the biopharmaceutical industry’s efforts to beat COVID-19, visit PhRMA.org/Coronavirus.
Andrew Powaleny is Senior Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA and leads the organizations scientific communications. Before joining PhRMA in 2015, he worked in public affairs for a small firm in Washington, DC and served as Deputy Press Secretary for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Andrew came to Washington, D.C. via Connecticut with a degree from Eastern Connecticut State University where he majored in public policy and government. Andrew is active as a runner and volunteer with the DC Front Runners; most recently serving on its Board of Directors for three years as co-race director. He is also a member of the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and mentors students through his alumni association with The Fund for American Studies. Andrew is passionate about scientific innovation, especially for mental illness, and his heroes are the men and women of America’s biopharmaceutical research companies.