Improving clinical trials for better drug development

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Published: 23 Nov 2017
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Dr Noah Berkowitz - Novartis

Dr Noah Berkowitz from Novartis talks to ecancer at the HARMONY 2017 meeting in Berlin. He discusses how HARMONY opens doors for companies like Novartis in order to create better clinical trails, and further understand the patient community. He also applauds the enthusiasm and collaboration between  competitor pharmaceutical companies in order to improve care and science.

My name is Noah Berkowitz and I’m Global Programme Clinical Head at Novartis for two products, Rydapt and Farydak. I’m representing Novartis with some colleagues because we’re very interested in building this public-private partnership to collect additional data and expand our knowledge in the disease of AML.

What does this mean for a company like Novartis?

What we find is that we’re able to construct clinical trials where we collect information, data, about patients and their response to treatment and the efficacy and the safety and this becomes the basis for understanding whether a drug can help patients or not. But ultimately that data is very limited because it may involve hundreds or a thousand or two thousand patients but we want to have a better understanding of what happens when the drug gets out into the world and how patients respond to it. We also want to understand what are the needs of patients so we can direct our energies and our resources more effectively to help the patient community.

How has your experience of the HARMONY project been so far?

It’s just been a wonderful experience sitting here and speaking to such devoted colleagues from all over Europe and from other parts of the world who are interested in looking for ways to expand our common knowledge with a patient focus. Ultimately to be a contributor to that pleases me as an individual but I’m sure it’s satisfying to the company and everyone else as well.

Is it unusual to be working alongside competitor companies?

In general there’s probably more collaboration than many would think between, to advance science and to address the needs of patients. But certainly it is organisations like this or partnerships like this that allow us to expand it, to test the waters with new ideas for collaboration and find better ways to work with one another, pool our resources and energies, so that we can benefit the patient community.

What important lessons can we learn from HARMONY?

Just the very experience of learning to work with one another, share information, share ideas, gives us the opportunity to collect better information in the future and directly impact the development of new drugs but also the dissemination of data and make drugs available for patients.