#EAPM: Bucharest hosts key conference on personalised medicine

| October 20, 2016 | 0 Comments

eapm_logo_final_MonoBlueThis week (19 October) saw the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) play a key role in a cutting-edge conference in the eastern-European city of Bucharest, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan. 

The gathering followed in the wake of an earlier satellite symposium held on October 18th in the Romanian capital, also addressed by EAPM. At the conference in Cotroceni Palace, a key topic was access to, and shortage of, medicines, which is in the news at the moment due to a scandal on the ‘unethical’ over-pricing of cancer drugs in Italy.

This saw a pharmaceutical company, Aspen Pharma, fined €5.2 million last Friday for abusing its dominant position in the cancer-medicine market, and effectively blackmailing the Italian regulatory agency over prices that it attempted to boost by up to 1,500%.

The scandal has seen pressure groups and consumer watchdogs ramp-up calls for the European Commission to launch a probe into medicine shortages.

The purpose of this would be to examine whether these shortages are being used as a tactic to up prices charged to Member State health authorities.

At the Bucharest conference, meanwhile, EAPM’s Executive Director Denis Horgan was joined by Diana Păun, Health Advisor at the Romanian Presidency; Marius Geantă, President and Co-founder, Center for Innovation in Medicine, and Member of the European Parliament Cristian Bușoi in the early addresses.

The USA’s Richard Ablin spoke on the topic ‘Toward the Realisation of Personalised Medicine’, while Elmar Nimmesgern, of the European Commission’s Personalised Medicine Unit, gave a European perspective on personalised medicine.   A multi-dimensional debate followed covering topics such as investment and the role of education in training health-care professionals in order that they come up-to-speed with today’s fast-moving developments in genetics, data and more.

Speakers included Ioanel Sinescu, Rector University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest; Cecilia Radu, General Manager NovoNordisk Romania; John Milne, Training Director National Institute for Bioprocessing, Research and Training, Dublin, Ireland; Cătălina Poiană, President College of Physicians Bucharest, and Florin Buicu, President Commission for Public Health at the Romanian Parliament.

On the key topic of education, EAPM will hold its second annual summer school for health-care professionals (HCPs) in Bucharest in 2017.  Building on the success of the inaugural Summer School in Cascais, Portugal, the concept will be taken east from 3-7 July next year.

The school is entitled ‘TEACH’, which stands for Training and Education for Advanced Clinicians and HCPs, and the goal is to bring young HCPs up-to-date with developments in this exciting field.  Aimed at young healthcare professionals aged 28-40, TEACH works on the basis that, if personalised medicine is to be in line with the EU and Member State principle of universal and equal access to high-quality healthcare, then clearly it must be made available to many more citizens than it is now.

The school dovetails with EAPM’s call on the European Commission to focus funds to stimulate a Continuous Education and Training Programme for HCPs in the context of personalised medicine  After education was discussed, Hans Lehrach; of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics Berlin spoke on the topic: ‘The Future of Health Care: deep data, smart sensors, virtual patients and the Internet of Humans’.

Lehrach’s address was followed by a debate on Big Data for Personalised Medicine, featuring Dan Gârlașu, of Oracle Romania; Călin Gălășeanu, ARPIM President; Mihnea Costoiu, Rector Polytechnik University Bucharest, and EAPM’s Horgan once again.   Other speakers were Paul Cornes, of NICE; Nikolaos Tsoulos, CEO Genekor; Corina Pop, Secretary of State, Ministry of Health, and; Irina Berechet, Corporate affairs manager, AstraZeneca Romania.  The symposium the day before featured many of the same speakers but focussed more on access to biologics therapies in Romania.

Held at the city’s Casa Titulescu, other speakers included Sol Ruiz, Chair of the Biologics Working Party at the European Medicines Agency; Ioannis Petrakis (Market Access, HEOR and Governmental Affairs Head, MCO Balkans; Vlad Negulescu, of the Romanian National Drug Agency, and; Vasile Cepoi (President of the National Agency for Health Quality.

Speaking today (20 October) EAPM’s Denis Horgan said: “The issue of access to medicines and treatments is huge, and the Alliance and its multi-stakeholders have always been aware of this.  “The problem is unacceptable everywhere but can be even worse in eastern countries.”  Horgan added: “The barriers to integrating personalised medicine into healthcare systems often loom larger in the eastern member states, due to several reasons including the fact that they tend to have less resources than their counterparts and many of their healthcare professionals migrate westwards.

“This is one of the reasons that EAPM was here yesterday and today for these key meetings, and also why we have chosen Bucharest to host our 2017 summer school.”

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Category: A Frontpage, EU, European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, Health, Personalised medicine

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