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By Liz Lewis, Chief Counsel and Head of Patient Advocacy at Takeda Oncology

Nearly 20 years ago, our leadership at Takeda Oncology came up with a novel idea. The organization, soon to launch its first cancer therapy, decided to prioritize understanding the experiences and perspectives of patients diagnosed with cancer. Through this understanding, we believed that we would be better able to address and respond to patient needs.

This assumption proved true — in more ways than we could have realized at the time. Today, patient advocacy is a core function within Takeda Oncology and has taken hold across the industry. As a pioneer in this space, Takeda Oncology now collaborates with more than 15 patient groups and has established several Patient Leadership Councils, comprised of patient and caregiver champions with various types of cancer who provide us with feedback and input pertaining to our business initiatives. We have become astute listeners over the years, ensuring that patient voices and experiences are a key part of our strategic direction, educational and program decisions, approach to access and policy and the development of new treatments.

Most importantly, our relationships with patient groups give us first-hand insight to the true unmet needs of patients and their families. As a result of this deepened understanding of the patient experience, we can support the development of better initiatives and educational platforms to help patients maneuver through their disease and treatment by focusing on education and empowerment. These efforts include peer-to-peer programs, through which patients are able to inspire others by sharing their experience, as well as one-on-one peer mentor programs.

We also rely on our relationships with patients to inform the discovery and development of promising compounds that address true patient needs. Then, as we bring these potential new drugs into clinical trials, we engage patients to seek their input on which outcome measures would be most meaningful and how the study protocol would impact their day-to-day lives. This process not only speeds the delivery of novel treatments, but also ensures that those treatments are the right ones — the most needed ones — for patients.

As the organization evolves, we remain committed to giving patients who are living with cancer a voice and shaping our business around their insights. Our expanding portfolio, which now includes both blood and solid tumor cancers, gives us an opportunity to connect to even more patients who are living with some of the rarest and most complex types of cancer.

No matter what the future has in store for Takeda Oncology, one fundamental principle will never waver: patients come first. To learn more about Takeda, visit

NOTE: A version of this article ran in Clinical Oncologist Daily in June 2017