#EAPM – Airports galore for von der Leyen, and a possible health hat-trick for Cyprus

| July 31, 2019

Welcome to our latest update as we prepare to move into August (yes, already). Many of you will be looking forward to a well-earned break, and so will we at EAPM, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.

Yes, even the Alliance takes a little breather in the albeit continuous battle to bring innovation into the EU’s healthcare systems in the form of personalised medicine.

But we’ll keep you regularly posted, nonetheless, through the month so you’ll have something interesting and current to read on the beach, up a mountain, on a cruise, or dangling from a hang-glider. Happy days!

Well, maybe not quite so happy for those setting our medicines prices as the UN has released the final version of its political declaration on universal health coverage, noting that highpriced medicines cause inequitable access and financial hardships, both of which, it states, “impede progress towards achieving universal health coverage”.

The declaration calls for increasing transparency of prices of medicines”, but nods to the private sector’s quibbles by calling for support ofincentive mechanisms that separate the cost of investment in research and development from the price and volume of sales”.

James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, is reported as saying: “This type of language on delinkage, in the context of incentives, is important.”

Elsewhere in EU-related health, EUnetHTA’s Marcus Guardian, the chief operating officer of the voluntary jointEU health technology assessment coop, will soon also be co-ordinating the International Horizon Scanning Initiative (IHSI).

The latter is a spin-off from the BENELUX AI initiative, in which five countries, namely Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria and Ireland, are trying to coordinate their horizon scanning activities and negotiate on medicines prices en masse.

IHSI is now a solo project, with plus-or-minus 10 countriesincluding some from outside the EU-apparently planning to sign up. We’ll find out exactly who is set to join around October time.

(Many EAPM stakeholders will recall that Marcus participated in our series of round tables on HTA, alongside member state representatives, as well as joining us for our presidency conference– so he certainly sees things from a broad perspective.)

Meanwhile the European Commission is set to launch a call for new members to augment the current 24 European Reference Networks (known as ERNs).

As readers doubtless know, ERNs are a network of raredisease specialist centres and experts geared towards the treatment of EU patients. 

The Commission decided at the end of last week to clarify the role of the board of member states in steering the ERN, also adding new data protection provisions.Good news.

Fly me to the moon

The 50th anniversary of the successful mission to land on the moon has come and gone, but how about the EU’s cancer mission? 

Well it’s good news for three EAPM ‘champions’ who have been co-opted. These are Christine Chomienne, of Institut National Du Cancer – INCa (who has worked extremely hard in respect of our Summer Schools and more), Walter Ricciardi,of the Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (who has worked with the Alliance in the area of public health), and MEGA+colleague Andres Metspalu, of the Estonian Genome Centre at the University in Estonia.

Stella could be a stellar appointment

Staying with the subject of the Commission, at the end of last week, Cyprus put forward Stella Kyriakides as the countrys next European commissioner, which could be good news for health stakeholders. 

Kyriakides is a clinical psychologist and long-standing campaigner on breast cancer and has also worked on health policy issues and legislation in her own country. As it stands, it seems that no other Commission nominee has expressed an interest in taking over the health brief at the Berlaymont.

It seems that Cyprus is big, big, BIG on health. Two previous Cypriots have held the EU role in the form of Markos Kyprianou and Androulla Vassiliou.

Ticket(s) to ride

Meanwhile, Twitter-user and Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen this week uploaded a photo of herself at an airport saying she was on her way to Croatia.

indeed, she has a busy week of travel (plus she was in Paris and Warsaw last week, presumably looking for support for her five-year agenda), with Zagreb, Madrid and Rome all waiting to greet her, and reports state that she may even get a visit from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán tomorrow (Thursday 1 August). That should be fun…

The so-called Visegrád 4 countries, along with Italy,played a big part in blocking a von der Leyen alternative in Frans Timmermans, and, by the end of this week, the-president-to-be will have met the leaders of four of the five member states.

It seems shes skipping London, though, which brings us nicely to…

UK science: Dead or alive?

Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnsons Brexit team has suggested that leaving the EU will be better for science in the UK.

Europhile scientists working across la Manche are begging to differ, preparing themselves (and us) for a lot of “misinformation” on the subject after last week’s appointment of leave-campaign stalwart and spin-doctor Dominic Cummings as Brexit adviser. 

Boris’s pal Cummings is widely credited with the Vote Leave slogan ‘Take Back Control’and the now-rubbished battle bus nonsense about £350 million-per-week funding the NHS instead.

Mike Galsworthy, who is director of Scientists for EU and NHS Against Brexit, speaking to Politico,said that his organisation is preparing to counter such arguments in the run up to 31 October.

It turns out that: “Cummings is a big fan of science, especially around data,” according to  Galsworthy,adding that the former brought scientists into his team to run a “good data-analytics campaign” for the referendum. 

“Unfortunately, hes killing the thing he loves because he is so obsessed with Brexit,” Galsworthy said, adding: “I think they do recognize the damage that Brexit is doing to UK science.

Galsworthy explained that Scientists for EU have set up a social media intelligence unit” and will be expert in arguing the case for collaboration with Europe on research, funding, science regulation, open immigration, visa-free travel, data sharing and more.

Meanwhile, the BMA has been getting on on the act, with docs and researchers highlighting their priorities for the new premier.

Chair of the British Medical Associations Council, Chaand Nagpaul, has called on Johnson to sort  out doctors’ pension tax, which is currently penalizing GPs if they work full hours.

Recent changes have caused them to hack away at their hours or even opt for early retirement, which hardly helps long waiting times for patients.

On top of this, Nagpaul has called for a  national vote on the final Brexit deal, with the BMAalarmed at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit” after repeatedly warning that such an outcome could have potentially catastrophic consequences across the NHS”.

And The Wellcome Trust’s chairwoman, Eliza Manningham-Buller, has written to Number Ten welcoming his promise to increase R&D funding, but at the same time calling for a much more welcoming immigration policy,” to attract the best healthcare talent to Britain.

He’s probably going to need it as we hear that the prime minister is planning new investment in the NHS and social care, using funds from former Chancellor Philip Hammonds so-called fiscal headroom.Perhaps spend a bit on staffing? Just saying…

And finally…

In news that will shock absolutely nobody, Cambridge Analytica, the now-notorious data analytics firm, worked for the Leave.EU campaign and UKIP ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum,the House of Commons recently learned.

The information totally contradicts repeated denials by both Leave.EU and UKIP that they used the company to target voters over Brexit. Tut tut!

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Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, EU, European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, European Commission, European Parliament, Health, Personalised medicine, UK

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