#EAPM – Close-of-the-year event is huge success

| December 6, 2018

It’s almost the end of 2018, and EAPM this week signed off in style with a great evening in the European Parliament in Brussels, during an event co-sponsored by Roche, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.

A big part of the fantastic dialogue involving 60 guests, a host of MEPs, and the great and the good supporters of personalised medicine, was the dialogue between all people there. The food wasn’t bad either.

Horgan told the assembled: “It’s been an amazing year. And thank you to everyone here, as well as those who couldn’t be, who have contributed to a busy, tough, but extremely valuable twelve months.

“Unfortunately, Santa was busy opening a fair somewhere in Lapland and couldn’t make it. But we’ve left some food out…”

The sponsoring MEP was Sirpa Pietkainen, a long-time advocate of personalised medicine.  She said: “Future proofing health-care sustainability in the EU” is vital and also congratulated Expert Group on their sustainability index.

The Index gives a unique overview of the current status of the current 28 EU healthcare systems, and is based on the largest data set of its kind, all open source, interactive, and verified by an independent panel of experts.

Marian Harkin MEPsaid: “The index provides meaningful insights about healthcare sustainability across the EU and the panel of experts includes patient associations, policy experts, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies. ”

As a sign off to the year it was an ideal event, especially coming on the back of a quite extraordinary second annual Congress in Milan and ahead of EAPM’s seventh annual presidency conference coming up in April.  In-between there is the not-so-small matter of Brexit at the end of March, followed by European Parliament elections and a new Commission.

So it’s not getting any quieter any time soon.

In the meantime, let’s focus a little on the FutureProofing index, which enables a future-focused conversation that is based on fact and sharing best practice, among healthcare professionals, media, patients and the general public across the European Union.

The index includes an in-depth analysis of the state of care throughout the patient journey for one specific disease each year. First up is breast cancer.

Said Horgan: “The Breast Cancer Index tracks the state of care for the disease, settling on one score for each country showing how systems support prevention and diagnosis, treatment, outcomes and survivorship, patient focus, and palliative care.

“The over-arching goal is to answer perennial questions by working together with partners from across the healthcare system to use a complete picture of what Europe knows now to drive a conversation about the healthcare systems that patients will need next.”

Asked about the index, Horgan added: “It asks questions such are wealthier countries always healthier, which countries get access to innovations first, is there a link between ratios of private health expenditure to public expenditure and health outcomes, and a link between public health spending in periods of recession and health outcomes?

“Access is key, here, as we have always said,” he added.

The guests heard that other questions include what is the correlation between countries with a universal health system and health outcomes, is there a link between the quality of monitoring of population health needs and overall system performance, what is the correlation between disparities in health across the population and overall health outcomes.

One extremely important question (although they all are important) is what is the link between numbers accessing screening programmes and survival rates?

EAPM is part of the expert panel in this ongoing project and the view from the Alliance is that such indexes need to exist in all key disease areas, lung cancer included.  Sustainability and access

Said Tuula Helander from Finland’s Ministry of Health: “Of course, there’s more than one way to look at the sustainability of healthcare systems. The meeting in the Parliament will examine what key conclusions can be drawn from existing data and what data is needed in the future to develop evidence-based and outcome-oriented healthcare systems.”

Lydia Makaroff, director, European Cancer Patient Coalition from patient group European Cancer Patient Coalition said: “Sustainability is a broad issue, and one key challenge for healthcare systems is to manage medicines spending – while also delivering on innovation. Europe needs to ensure rational use of resources.”

Part of this process is that where it is possible to treat a patient to target on an older cheaper medicine, it should be done. But if a patient needs a more modern treatment, access should be provided at reasonable prices that reflect both the added value and the volume across the market – with low volume treatments, naturally commanding a higher price.

Getting this balance right, ensures that everyone wins. Existing evidence shows clearly that countries actively managing rational use have lower spending growth for medicines as a whole – and therefore more potential ‘headroom for innovation’.

Integrating innovation 

This is a topic that was covered in depth at EAPM’s Congress in Milan from 26-28 November. The Congress worked under the banner ‘Forward as one: Integrating Innovation into Europe’s Healthcare Systems’ and pulled together 100s of leading experts in the fast-moving health-care arena.

Crowds of policy makers, government regulators, patients, researchers, academia, healthcare professionals, journalists were there to drive insights into action.

Back at the Parliament this week, MEP Sirpa Pietkainen said: “If the potential of personalised medicine is to be realised, changes will be necessary in the way medicines are developed, regulated, assessed and rewarded.

“It is necessary to make policymakers and payers realise that investing now in these advanced therapies and technologies, as well as in adequate regulatory and payer decision making frameworks, will be a key pre-requisite to see the long-term, cost-effective patient outcome benefits and more efficient healthcare systems materialize,” she added.

The proposed solutions range from better coordination and collaboration models between stakeholders and decision makers at various stages within the bench-to-bedside timeframe to more sophisticated pricing, reimbursement and funding mechanisms as well as effective forms of utilization management to address the inherent complexity of personalised medicine.

Innovation and the incentives for it are vital to health and wealth in the current EU-28 (and will be even more important after the UK leaves next year). It also encourages investment from outside of the EU, clearly good for business and jobs.

Similar challenges, similar messages. And here’s another one – happy holidays!

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