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How can we get the patient heard by the regulators?

27 March 2024

Dear Editor,

Recently the National Tay-Sachs & Allied Diseases Association (NTSAD) organised an externally led patient-focused drug development (EL-PFDD) meeting with the FDA, shedding light on the needs of individuals and their families impacted by GM2 gangliosidoses. As an advocate in this community, I find such initiatives not only amazing displays of community involvement, but crucial in reshaping the landscape of drug development and regulatory processes.

The significance of EL-PFDD meetings cannot be overstated. They serve as a platform where patients, caregivers and advocates can directly communicate their experiences, challenges and treatment expectations to the FDA. This dialogue ensures that the voices of those most impacted are heard, valued and integrated into decision-making processes.

Participating in these meetings goes beyond just being present; it is about empowerment and promoting change. By sharing personal stories and insights, patients and caregivers provide invaluable perspectives that can inform drug development strategies, trial designs and regulatory policies. This meeting, much like a similar one organised in 2023 by the Cure GM1 Foundation, shows how collaborative efforts between patient communities and regulatory bodies can drive progress towards effective treatments and improved quality of life.

However, the impact of such initiatives should not be confined to one geographical region.  We should replicate the success of EL-PFDD meetings in Europe by organising similar sessions with European regulatory agencies. They would provide a platform for patients, caregivers and advocates to share their experiences directly with regulatory decision-makers, ensuring that the unique needs and challenges faced by European rare disease communities are understood and addressed.

Promoting international collaboration and knowledge-sharing can lead to more robust advocacy efforts and streamlined regulatory pathways globally. As we navigate the complex landscape of rare disease advocacy, we should seize every opportunity available to us to strengthen our collective voice, drive meaningful change and, ultimately, improve the lives of those affected by rare diseases worldwide.

Daniel Lewi, chief executive – The CATS Foundation

Altringham, UK

CATS (Cure and Action for Tay-Sachs Foundation) logo

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