At Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America, Inc. (MTPA), we understand that communities form around almost every disease. From patients and caregivers, to physicians and nonprofit organizations, we see ourselves as part of the ecosystem striving for improved patient care. We take on the responsibility to do what we can as a pharmaceutical company to compliantly raise awareness of the diseases included in our therapeutic areas of focus and educate the public on what life after diagnosis is like for patients and their families.
To fulfill this mission, MTPA sponsors patient advocacy group programs and initiatives designed to not only raise funds for research, but also to address challenges that impact families’ lives. Nancy Bayerlein, Director of Patient Engagement and Support, manages the company’s relationships with nonprofit organizations that provide education and care services for patients across the country. Through these relationships, MTPA explores opportunities to contribute to initiatives that focus on patient needs today and in the future.
Tell us about your work with the patient groups.
Through my role as the director of Patient Engagement and Support, I manage the relationships between nonprofit organizations and MTPA.
I look for ways we can effectively work with patient advocacy organizations to help patients and caregivers, particularly focusing on how we can provide education and advance the awareness of ALS to the public. It is important to me that the company can support programs that address areas where there are high unmet needs. To do this, we must effectively determine the strengths of each patient advocacy group we work with and determine where we can partner in a compliant way to improve patient care.
What do you want the patient community to understand about your role?
The Patient Engagement position in a pharmaceutical company is a strategic role. In addition to building and managing relationships with patient advocacy organizations, I coordinate company funding of initiatives that are important to nonprofit organizations and aligned with our corporate mission to help patients.
The Patient Engagement department looks for innovative sponsorship proposals from advocacy groups that go beyond typical annual fundraisers and galas to focus on initiatives that have the potential to address challenges patients face each day.
I regularly meet with advocacy groups to discuss potential projects the company may support. Programs encompass a range of initiatives but often are geared toward improving the lives of patients and their caregivers or increasing awareness among neurologists, legislators and the public.
Some programs developed by these groups can address a specific need in the short term, such as developing outreach programs for those who can’t easily travel to multidisciplinary care centers for treatment. Other projects these groups create, such as developing patient and caregiver surveys, may be more research oriented with a long-term goal of understanding the impact ALS has on patients, their families and their communities.
Any incremental improvement we can help make, any big idea we can help set into motion that helps bridge the gap for high unmet needs, has the potential to positively impact patients and caregivers across the board.
What is the most fulfilling part of your role?
I love meeting with the organizations and working with them to solve problems. But I think my favorite part is when the patient organizations’ projects succeed because MTPA was able to collaborate with them and the ALS community.
Many patient advocacy organizations have innovative ideas for programs that address the challenges patients are facing, but may need some financial support to make the program a reality. It is very meaningful for me to be able to collaborate with them and see their ideas turn into impactful programs for the ALS community. It is also very rewarding to see advocacy groups building momentum in their disease focuses by continually sharing their successes and best practices with others across the country.
How do you feel your role contributes to the MTPA mission?
For a disease state that has relatively few treatment options, the toughest challenges go beyond developing effective medications. Because ALS is a rare disease, it’s important to bring awareness to the impact it has on families.
Through my role, I have an opportunity to work closely with patient advocacy organizations to ensure that these challenges are being addressed — and together we’re helping more families.
What motivates you in your work?
I am constantly impressed by the passion and dedication I see in the ALS community to keep this terrible disease in the public eye and help patients receive the care they need.
There are so many areas that we can work on that haven’t been touched on in rare diseases, especially for ALS. Any incremental improvement we can help make, any big idea we can help set into motion that helps bridge the gap for high unmet needs, has the potential to positively impact patients and caregivers across the board.
This motivates me to always ensure patients and their families are at the center of every initiative we support.
What excites you the most about working at MTPA?
There is an intense spirit of collaboration at MTPA. Every day, I see the passion my colleagues have for really, truly helping patients and caregivers who are going through their respective journeys. For us, we are all invested in making a difference and giving back to the community. The one thing we focus on daily is the person with ALS.