As coronavirus infections soar across the planet, and the death toll rises everywhere, not least in Europe, many are asking why European Union member states were so disconnected from each other strategy-wise, and what the EU can do about improving co-ordination this second time round, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.
Well, given that health care is a jealously guarded member state competence, locking-down the answer isn’t easy, and never has been. But that doesn’t help Europe’s citizenry, given that COVID-19 is no respecter of borders and national sovereignty.
This was one of a myriad discussion items discussed in our recent virtual Presidency Conference entitled ‘Ensuring access to innovation and data-rich biomarker space to speed better quality of care for citizens’. You can read the report here.
As highlighted during the Presidency Conference, there is potential future promise in the European policy context, with the legislative and policy initiatives currently on the EU agenda – most recently – the declaration of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in favour of European Health Union which was discussed during the conference.
EAPM has always argued for more EU-wide co-operation and coordination in health care, and the current crisis has only made that need more obvious.
Indeed, for the best part of a decade, the Alliance has been calling for policies to tackle diseases of many different types - not least cancer - through new science and personalised healthcare, with the backing of many MEPs.
It is apt that throughout the topic-specific discussions of the Presidency Conference, the broader themes that emerged most insistently were collaboration and communication, since these have been the hallmarks of EAPM’s activity since its initiation.
EAPM is by definition a collaborative exercise, bringing together the broadest range of stakeholders – as this conference again demonstrated. And communication has been at the heart of EAPM’s activity, since its role is not just as a thinktank for refining ideas, but as a vehicle for transmitting those ideas from the world of healthcare to the broader world of policy, where the decisions are made that ultimately shape the way health is delivered.
Although there was no formal process of agreeing recommendations at the meeting, the following are among the recurring recommendations from the discussions.
Inequalities in access to testing and treatment across Europe must be addressed
Adequate data infrastructure and processing capacity must be available.
Real-world evidence must be developed and acceptance criteria agreed with regulators, HTA agencies and payers.
Greater flexibility in regulatory requirements is needed to accommodate evaluation of products destined for small populations.
Multi-stakeholder collaboration must be developed to agree research priorities, standards and quality assurance of testing, and evaluation criteria for testing and treatments.
Trust must be developed among citizens about the security and possible use of their data.
Communication must be developed by healthcare stakeholders to persuade policymakers to effect constructive change.
The link to the report is available here.
1 million genome meeting on 21 October
Registration is still very much open for the B1MG meeting on 21 October. The aim of the the 1 million Genome Project is to support the connection of national genomics and data infrastructures, co-ordinate the harmonization of the ethical and legal framework for sharing data of high privacy sensitivity, and give practical guidance for the pan-European coordination of implementing genomic technologies in national and European health-care systems.
Thus, the B1MG is a means to bring the different stakeholders together on Oct 21st so as to act as a catalyst to provide a benchmark approach for alignment of complex, fractionated health-care provisions into health-care systems.
Register here and read the full agenda here.
Have the best week possible, and keep safe.