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Patient-driven drug development is part of a larger trend in medicine toward greater patient involvement in medical treatment (Dwamena et al. 2012). Technology is giving patients ever more opportunities to collect data, collaborate, and measure the effectiveness of treatment alongside researchers and physicians (Topol 2015). Physicians and researchers might resist this trend out of a fear that they will be inundated with time-consuming requests from patients who are not medical experts, as more patients demand a role in the development of new therapies. The worry that patient-driven development would increase the workload of physicians and researchers might be legitimate. Nonetheless, just as physicians required longer conversations with patients after the introduction of informed consent requirements, the moral and therapeutic gain might warrant inclusion of patients as research partners. Patients may take a more active role in their own care and they may make significant contributions to our understanding of diseases and of quality care more generally.

Finally, as pharmaceutical research is increasingly focused on personalized medicine, new advances in technology may also complement patient-driven approaches to drug development and vice versa. As patients continue to claim greater control over their treatment, calls for compassionate access and crowd-sourced funding will play a greater role in the development process. Though there are some risks to the patient-driven approach, patients can offer manufactures and researchers resources that promote better drug discovery and better treatment. Policy-makers, researchers, and manufacturers should therefore include patients in the development process as much as possible, even if doing so requires changes to the clinical trial system, expanded access programs, or the current approval process.

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