Massachusetts is a global center for biopharma innovation. Life science and healthcare technology companies leverage the region’s talented workforce, world-class hospitals and research institutions to create advanced medical devices and discover new drugs. It’s important for these companies to make sure Congress fully understands how these advances are improving patient treatment and care. In June, medical device manufacturer Abiomed worked with the O’Neill and Associates federal relations team to host a patient advocacy event in Washington, DC. Abiomed patients from around the country, now Heart Recovery Advocates, convened on Capitol Hill to help raise awareness of the burgeoning field of heart recovery.
Abiomed, headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts, manufactures the world’s smallest heart pump, a line of devices called Impella. The company’s products are the only FDA-approved devices for heart recovery. The groundbreaking technology not only drastically increases the chance of survival for heart attack patients, but also improves their quality of life by helping them keep their native heart tissue.
On June 8th, nineteen patients who benefitted from treatment with Abiomed’s Impella heart pumps traveled from all over the United States sharing their stories of survival with their representatives in Congress. These patient advocates explained how Impella has helped their lives, as well as the importance of supporting the field of heart recovery. Each patient advocate represented living proof that progress is being made in treating the number one cause of death in the United States: heart failure and coronary artery disease (CAD).
“It is important for companies to step back and let their good work speak for itself,” said O’Neill and Associates CEO Tom O’Neill. “It’s easy to get bogged down in policy minutia, particularly in a highly-regulated industry like healthcare. Abiomed personalizes policy for Congress when it provides a platform for their patients to tell their stories in the first person. Those stories are tremendously powerful.”
The fly-in was a packed two-day event. It began with an advocacy training session, in which O’Neill and Associates team members AmyClaire Brusch and Anthony DeMaio worked with Abiomed’s staff to prepare the patient advocates for their meetings on Capitol Hill. Equipped with their personal stories, talking points on heart failure and CAD, and, most importantly, confidence, the patient advocate teams fanned out across the halls of Congress. The lunch hour featured a briefing on advancements in heart recovery hosted by the House Medical Technology Caucus. The Caucus Co-Chair, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), addressed congressional staffers, patients, and industry representatives attending the briefing. Following afternoon meetings in congressional offices, Abiomed joined other medical technology companies to showcase their devices at an event sponsored by the Advanced Medical Technology Association, an industry trade group. The event’s brief speaking program featured AdvaMed CEO Scott Whitaker and a particularly compelling story from one of Abiomed’s patient advocates. It was a fitting way to close out a long day on Capitol Hill.
As awareness of the Impella technology continues to grow, more and more lives around the world will be helped by Abiomed. Last year, Abiomed reached a major milestone having treated enough patients to fill Fenway Park. Their next marker, Gillette Stadium, is approaching on the horizon. For O’Neill and Associates’ teams in Boston and Washington, it is a privilege to help Abiomed and its thousands of patients tell their stories.