#EAPM – Time to ‘redouble efforts’ on personalised medicine

| April 9, 2019

Today (9 April) the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine will hold its 7th annual presidency conference at the University Foundation in Brussels, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.

The event is entitled ‘Forward as one: Health-care innovation and the need for policymaker engagement’, and aims to allow for a bridge to legislators and others in order to further build on the developments that the Alliance has helped to architect in various policy areas.

The organizers see it as an ideal one-stop shop, as stakeholders from every discipline and every member state come together to forge the way ahead.

Every year, it is attended by large numbers of industry professionals, government regulators, patients, academia, researchers, health-care journalists and more into driving insights into action.

Yesterday (8 April) also saw EAPM host a high-level event on lung-cancer screening at the same venue in coalition with the European Respiratory Societyand the European Society of Radiology,, entitled  ‘Saving Lives, Cutting Costs’.

 Innovation is key

Speaking ahead of today’s event, EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan said: “We are here today to talk about innovation. Smart innovation in our health-care systems.

“We all know that there is plenty of great science in Europe, brilliant research and quality innovation, especially in healthcare. The question is how to fully integrate this into national health-care systems.”

Horgan pointed out that personalised medicine is a growing trend, although a survey not so long ago show suggested that only 40% of patients are aware of such targeted therapies.

 Possibly worse, only 11% had discussed such options with their doctor.

So, despite its proven efficacy in certain areas and vast potential in others, it remains a struggle to embed innovative personalised medicine into the EUs healthcare systems.

This is not helped by the fact that healthcare is a Member State competence under the treaties, so the European Parliament and Commission can only do so much.

Horgan explained that among the barriers to integrating innovation into the lives of Europe’s hundreds of millions of citizens are a lack of education and awareness, a need for greater patient empowerment, the recognition of the value of personalised medicine, the collection, storage and sharing of vital research data, and problems with access to care.

MEP Cristian Busoi, who will open the conference, said: “EAPM has often pointed out to me and my Parliamentary colleagues that, while existing systems were designed and developed to support innovation and access for patients to innovative medicines and treatment, these systems are falling short and already need to be reassessed.”

“Essentially, and demonstrably, Europe has been slow in taking account of new technologies. So we clearly need to build better healthcare systems for our citizens and, if we build it, they will come,” the Romanian deputy added.

A major part of the building blocks for these better healthcare systems are multi-stakeholders in this brave new world of genetics, imaging, cutting-edge IVDs and more.

EAPM’s plan is to create a better health-care future for all Europeans through shared decision making and co-operation.

As ever, a key aim of today’s conference is to allow cross-fertilization, allowing everyone to share knowledge and experience, and gain a greater depth of knowledge into the various aspects of the field of personalised medicine.

It is also geared towards offering up valuable evidence and stakeholder opinion on which policy makers can base their decision making on how better to integrate personalised medicine into Europe’s healthcare services.

EU health policy is locked in to the principle that the good health of citizens is the basis for meeting the bloc’s objectives on prosperity, solidarity and safety.

Data, data, everywhere…

The two previous decades have seen an explosion of data throughout the healthcare value chain as well as the advent of new platforms, tools and methodologies in collecting, storing and analyzing it.

The potential of Big Data in improving health is enormous. Digital technologies can empower patients, support public health policies, provide more integrated healthcare and reduce healthcare costs.

The Parliament’s Busoi added that his fellow Parliamentarian Soledad Cabezón Ruiz, rapporteur for the amendments on the Commissions plans to revamp health technology assessment across member states, recently highlighted the need to have digital technologies coming into the health arena that can improve access for citizens.

The Commission, meanwhile, has said that data is the key enabler for the digital transformation and that better health data and better digital tools would lead to better quality of care and life.

The EU executive has noted that interoperability of these tools is clearly important. Especially when ensuring that electronic health records at regional and national levels are interoperable across borders.

On that topic, up to 22 member states should be exchanging prescriptions and patient summaries by the end of 2021.

“Obviously, the digital and data revolution – thats eHealth and all other myriad aspects – are crucial to moving forward with innovation in the health-care arena,” said Busoi.

We’ve started, so let’s finish

MEP Dubravka Suica, from Croatia, who will also be speaking at today’s event, said: “Our work to imbed personalised medicine into Europe’s healthcare systems is really only just beginning. There is much still to be done to build a better, healthier world for all our citizens.”

Suica added that Croatia’s presidency of the EU will be “playing its own part” when it takes its turn to carry the European Council torch for six months at the start of January next year.

She said: “We all clearly know that the Croatian Presidency, like those that have come before and those that will come after, has a big challenge. But I can also tell you that Croatia is, and will be, ready to meet that challenge.”

In the meantime, she said, no stakeholder can, nor will, sit back on their laurels. “The time to act is now, the circumstances are ripe, and the future will rely on what we create not just tomorrow but in the here and now,” added Suica.

She noted that Europe’s institutions have “made a lot of progress in this last five-year legislative period’, but acknowledged that “if one thing is abundantly clear, we need more involvement of the EU in health care”.

EAPM’s Horgan said that: “Personalised medicine used to be little more than a dream. But now embedding it into the EU’s healthcare systems, utilising all this potential for innovation, is getting closer by the day to becoming a reality. So, we cannot stop now.”

“In fact,” he added: “We have to redouble and redouble again all our efforts against a backdrop of cash-strapped health-care systems that risk becoming unsustainable as the population ages and co-morbidities become more and more common.

“We have to redouble and redouble again all our efforts to integrate smart innovation into health-care systems.

“And we have to redouble and redouble again all our efforts to create more health and therefore more wealth in our diverse member states for the benefit of all.

“We are in the middle of a huge battle, but it is one that we must and will win,” he insisted.


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