Just because a patient population is small doesn’t mean that those patients require less support. Patients facing rare diseases need integrated, high-touch care to access life-saving medications. UBC supports the entire rare disease product lifecycle – from sponsors who are developing products to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions to manufacturers who are bringing these breakthrough medications to market. Our teams have supported many rare diseases and orphan indications over the years.
UBC offers Global Periapproval Services & Late Stage Clinical Research services tailored to rare diseases, including clinical trial implementation and management, patient recruitment, peri and postapproval studies, registries, and value demonstration studies.
Finding the right sites and subjects is a challenge for all studies, but especially for small patient populations. UBC’s site feasibility team utilizes an extensive, proprietary investigator database for site identification to administer feasibility assessments and provide direct outreach to rare disease foundations, patient advocacy groups, and treatment centers of excellence.
UBC has decades of experience working with a variety of foundations and patient advocacy groups. In rare diseases where access to these patients is critical to better understand the disease process, patients and their caregivers, we work directly with the foundation, or a manufacturer looking to more deeply engage with the foundation, enabling them to participate in a wide range of pre- and post-marketing late stage research. Foundations are particularly important to furthering our understanding of products and populations in unique indications where less is known about the disease process and epidemiology.
UBC helps facilitate connections and important clinical, safety, effectiveness, and commercial discussions between pharmaceutical manufacturers and foundations to create mutual alignment between the foundations’ medical, scientific, and advocacy agendas and the manufacturer’s product-specific clinical development approach. In return, data sharing agreements are established between the parties or directly with UBC to ensure access to critical patient data in a secure, HIPAA-compliant manner, captured through innovative real world technologies and infrastructure.
The programs we support in rare, orphan, and/or specialty products often combine collaboration with the manufacturer and key local or national foundations, underpinned by evidence generation approaches that consider both traditional data collection and other real world data access opportunities. These data points may include healthcare settings or direct-to-patient virtual engagement, providing a comprehensive assessment of the most optimal way to implement a rare disease program.
Finding the right sites and subjects is challenging for all studies, but especially for small patient populations. UBC leverages foundations to directly source data on these patients and better understand their referral patterns throughout the healthcare journey from pre-diagnosis, to diagnosis and beyond. Foundations are also aware of the patient journey, clinical and/or other issues impacting their care.
UBC’s site feasibility team utilizes the foundation’s feedback to help us narrow our patient and site selection approach. We also offer an extensive, proprietary investigator database for site identification to administer feasibility assessments and support direct outreach to rare disease foundations, patient advocacy groups, and treatment centers of excellence.
To help our Sponsors overcome recruitment challenges, our Patient & Physician Services team utilizes data-driven solutions. Our deep scientific understanding, epidemiological approach, and data-driven solutions allow us to deliver our pharmaceutical sponsors valuable insights and rapid results for patient, physician, and site recruitment.
Due to sparse or incomplete rare-disease clinical trial data, Sponsors encounter many challenges when trying to assess orphan drug risk and safety. Also, these patients often tolerate higher uncertainty because an alternative drug is usually unavailable. Our Risk Management & Pharmacovigilance services help pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers maximize orphan product performance by managing risk before, during, and after launch.
UBC knows that seamless coordination is the key to ensuring a successful therapeutic journey. For rare disease patients, this journey is as unique as they are. Our reimbursement services provide unique solutions that ensure patient journeys are navigated successfully.
Building relationships with trusted healthcare professionals helps rare-disease patients fully engage in their treatment. Year after year, nurses rank as the most trusted professionals in the country. Our nursing & adherence solutions provide patient-centric care, therapy education, and product administration — frequently, where the patient is most comfortable: A UBC-trained clinician is within driving distance of 90% of the U.S. population.
Over the years, pharmaceutical manufacturers and Sponsors have worked hard to find breakthrough therapy products to treat rare diseases. However, currently, only 5% of the roughly 7,000 rare diseases in the world have approved treatment options. While patients wait for a therapy to be approved to treat their disease, many pharmaceutical manufacturers and Sponsors are utilizing Expanded Access Programs (EAPs) for their orphan products.
UBC is the only company that combines all of the necessary services to provide a seamless patient journey. Engaging experts in clinical development, reimbursement hubs, nursing, and specialty pharmacy at the outset of an EAP allows UBC to offer a true start-to-finish solution and a panoramic view of patient care throughout the process and across the globe.
UBC thought leaders have a long history of meeting the needs of sponsors focused on orphan diseases. Our work, performed globally, has ranged from providing strategic planning support to designing multiple types of research engagements and high-touch programs to communicating our findings in publications and conference presentations. In certain cases, our research efforts have been the first-ever studies in a specific disease.
Shazia Ahmad provides our pharmaceutical Sponsors with extensive rare-disease expertise, insight, and direction on the design and implementation of study recruitment and retention plans. Before joining our organization, Shazia served as a study coordinator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she was involved in the coordination of various rare-disease studies. Throughout her career, she has worked with many rare diseases, including cystic fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, Kawasaki disease, sickle cell disease, Tourette syndrome, Lyme disease, restless legs syndrome, and pediatric multiple sclerosis.
Head of Patient & Physician Services
Serving as UBC’s Senior Vice President & Head of Patient Access Services, Nicole Hebbert is responsible for all Patient Access Services within UBC. Nicole leads the Operational Excellence, Client Satisfaction, Patient Engagement, and Program Delivery teams. Nicole’s responsibilities extend externally to our client relationships where, she is responsible for our consulting initiatives surrounding a specialty product’s market entry, access channel, and supply chain considerations. These considerations include approaches for drug delivery that optimize patient access, consider alternate sites of care, and anticipate payer coverage dynamics of the product, as well as prescriber and patient-centered needs.
With over 30 years leading Specialty Pharmacy and Pharma Services teams, Nicole brings a unique perspective and experience set to solving today’s patient services challenges. Focused on transformative and technology-enabled solutions, her strategic engagement model provides consultative and meaningful solutions to all phases of specialty drug commercialization. Nicole’s ‘high tech’ and ‘high touch’ model of designing, implementing, and operating her programs make her a strong business partner to our clients.
Equally committed to employees and patients, Nicole is responsible for the operational health of all Patient Support Services programs at UBC. Using qualitative and quantitative measures, she believes in the constant evolution of services. As payer, privacy, and regulatory shifts demand early insights and prospective solutions, Nicole and her team untangle the dynamic challenges of access, affordability, and adherence.
Nicole has previously served as Vice President, Pharmacy Operations at Priority Health, where she launched some of the industry’s earliest reimbursement hubs and patient support programs for Aetna Specialty Pharmacy and Walmart Specialty. She subsequently spent 9 years in various operational and strategic roles, with increasing responsibility, supporting Express Scripts integrations of Wellpoint and Medco specialty operations. Nicole joined UBC’s leadership team in 2014.
Head of Patient Access Services