October 30, 2006

A Consumer Council for Inhibitors


I was in Chicago on Thursday and Friday to facilitate the Novo Nordisk Consumer Council meeting; this is the third such meeting which brings together parents and patients who are also opinion leaders for a day of analysis and brainstorming to determine better ways to educate and empower inhibitor families. Novo Nordisk flew our council members in from Ohio, California, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and despite stormy weather, which delayed many flights, most members were able to gather for an elegant dinner at Nick’s Fish Market to get reacquainted.

The next day was productive and stimulating. After breakfast we dove into our agenda, discussing inhibitor patients’ needs and ways to address them. Council members brought in sample educational materials for other chronic disorders, which we analyzed for their usefulness by rating content, layout and user-friendliness. We had a discussion after lunch about the business structure of the hemophilia market and how products are valued. Insurance played a large role in all we discussed.

The Consumer Council was designed to be a forum for inhibitor patients to vocalize they concerns directly to a manufacturer, and provide feedback to a manufacturer on its own marketing materials and efforts to educate. It also allows a manufacturer to directly educate consumers, who will in turn educate consumers back from where they come. It is a great two-way interaction that benefits everyone. I was very sorry to leave my good friends Friday afternoon, many of whom remained for the Novo Nordisk Inhibitor Summit meeting on Saturday. Me? I chose to be in Boston for my daughter’s 16th birthday. In all the years I have worked with the hemophilia community (17 now) and in all my travels, I have not yet missed any of my three children’s birthdays.

On the plane ride home, no celebrity sighting but something just as amazing. Sitting next to me was a 30-year-old man, who looked remarkably like a 20-year-old college student. Brett was charming, talkative, and full of ideas and life. He owns an entertainment consulting company, and teaches teambuilding, goal setting and leadership, topics near to my heart. He simply exuded energy, enthusiasm and zest for life. When he asked what I do, he listened with much interest. When I finished he told me he knew a guy with hemophilia. I felt it coming–most likely I know him, too! Sure enough, it was Ali B., my son’s counselor from Paul Newman’s Camp Hole in the Wall Gang in Connecticut! Is that strange, or what? Yes and no; things like this happen a lot, the more I travel and chat with fellow passengers. Brett and I met as strangers and parted as friends, vowing to share our entrepreneurial experiences in the future and stay in touch. I didn’t get home till 2:30 am, but appreciated a happily surprising end to a great trip!

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