#EAPM: Call for ‘more fairness’ in patient access to innovative treatments at the European Haematologist Congress

| June 23, 2017 | 0 Comments
The Brussels-Based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) yesterday (22 June) held a round table meeting of stakeholders in Madrid, entitled ‘EU options for improving access to medicines’, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

The meeting formed a part of the 22nd annual congress of the European Hematology Association (EHA) taking place in the Spanish capital.

The yearly gathering attracts some 15,000 delegates and speakers from the hematology community and beyond, and features a full scientific programme, alongside updates in hematology, a commercial exhibition and satellite symposia.

This is the third such event that EAPM has hosted at the congress.

The Alliance’s Working Group on Access has been regularly discussing issues such as the EU’s problem over inequitable access, as well as the need for incentives and what exactly constitutes ‘value’ in this field.

It has been said that: “Fairness is one of the most basic ‘hard wired’ universals of human nature.” Unfortunately, this is clearly not translating to equal access for all the EU’s patients to the right treatment at the right time.

In the wake of a European Parliament report on the topic of improving access, the meeting aimed to elicit responses from the health-care community in order to understand the way they envisage moving forward.

Among those stakeholders speaking at the Alliance forum were the European Parliament rapporteur on access, Soledad Cabezon Ruiz.

She was joined by Javier Urzay, who is deputy director of Farmaindustria, Teresa Chavarria Gimenez, of the Madrid Health Ministry, and EAPM executive director Denis Horgan, among other stakeholders.

Soledad Cabezon Ruiz, who is well-respected for achieving much in the arena of healthcare at EU level, said of the European Parliament report which she oversaw: “(It) is the First Position of the European Parliament on a new system for medicines in Europe, since the pharmacovigilance regulation in the wake of the thalidomide disaster.”

“The scandal over the treatment of hepatitis C has been key to open the debate,” she said, adding: “The report is a political statement that must be driven by Parliament itself and by all parties involved in the system, including healthcare professionals, and action by the Commission and the Council. “

She was addressing delegates gathered from 15 member states, as well as stakeholders from as far afield as India and China.

Between them they covered several issues including the fact that disparities in male life expectancy between eastern and western Europe have grown over the past four decades, and that generally across Europe health services for children are not up-to-speed with modern developments.

Meanwhile, public health efforts are at risk due to poor European and national legislation, migration of health workers is a major threat to many European countries (especially the less wealthy ones) and the fact that while ageing is a major public policy issue, it is being mishandled.

Personalised medicine, the forum heard, has its own health economic essentials and putting the patient in focus is the most important factor. This focus primarily involves outcomes, in terms of health and quality of care, as well as co-decision making in the personalised medicine era.

Meanwhile, one concept of ‘value’ can be defined as that developed in clinical practice using evidence from real-world data, delegates heard.

Among the challenges, the round table agreed, are the need for Improved collaboration between innovative industry and healthcare systems in Europe, a necessity to align regulatory and payer objectives through the re-engineering of the European Medicines Agency, and the development of payment mechanisms that support personalised medicine and reward innovation.

Industry’s Javier Urzay told the forum that “(Industry is) working very hard to improve access and is achieving great success in doing this,” while the the Madrid Health Ministry’s Teresa Chavarria Gimenez stressed that there was a need for a “quicker pace” when it comes to getting innovation into healthcare systems.

For its part, EAPM believes that among the areas that have to come under scrutiny are the need to re-organise how modern healthcare works – by using all stakeholders, also a long-hard look at the regulatory balance is required, and systems need to be put in place to support innovation (including incentives). Broadly agreed and implemented incentives in order to facilitate the development of treatment are crucial.

Cabezon Ruiz said: “The system requires deep changes not only because of the high price of medicines, but also because of the lack of genuine innovation, the shortage and the competition problems,” adding, “it is a dysfunctional system in the medical, social and economic context of the 21st century, mainly focused on precision medicine thanks to advances in genetics, the sustainability of public health systems – very valued by European citizenship – the population ageing, new technologies and new needs and treatment possibilities for diseases.”

She called for ‘a new paradigm’ that “must be addressed at a supranational level in particular in the EU, specifically in relation to competences on transparency, clinical trials, centralised authorisations, research funding and competition rules”.

The Alliance’s Denis Horgan said: “It is all about fairness and equal access for patients and, of course, there are many reasons to explain why patient access to the right treatment at the right time is being delayed, blocked and made inequitable.

“EAPM takes the view that, while no single stakeholder is to blame, every stakeholder has a responsibility to address the situation.”

He added: “Solutions to all issues need to be found via agreement at high-level that involves cross-border stakeholders, including health-care systems, as no single country can solve the issues alone.

“In this context, member states need more Europe, not less, in the sense of upgraded collaboration which should lead to more streamlining of health-care systems across the EU.”


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

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