2020: A year like no other – and it’s only half time

Access to cancer care, EU’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Croatian Presidency, cross-border access to clinical trials as well as COVID-19 and Cancer Care – all this dominated the EFPIA Oncology Platform over the past six months. Time to shed light on some highlights but also time to reflect about the coming six months in a new environment.

As we rang in the new year, none of us could have predicted the turbulent times that lay ahead. Now, as we reach the relative calm of summer, it’s a good time to reflect on the first six months of 2020 – and to look at what might be in store in the busy autumn that awaits us.

The EFPIA Oncology Platform kicked off the year by looking at cancer care across Europe and asking Where are we in 2020? The answer, based on the Comparator Report on Cancer in Europe 2020, was that progress has been made but its impact is uneven.

There are stark disparities across Europe: the five-year survival rates for colon cancer in Iceland is 70%; in Croatia, the figure is 50%. If every country performed as well as the best in class, an additional 15,706 people would survive for at least five years after diagnosis. The Comparator Report sets out a series of solutions that can improve cancer care. Read the full report.

Building on the Comparator Report, we have just launched a digital toolkit, which provides a visual and interactive comparison of cancer care and outcomes across European countries.

The toolkit allows visitors to view and download an overview of the Comparator Report’s data for 28 European countries across eight tumour types.

Over 1000 attendees

Our blog has reflected the way in which the Oncology Platform works – it has displayed the spirit of cooperation and partnership that we bring to everything we do. We highlighted awareness campaigns for colon cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer (here and here); we welcomed interviews with leading patient advocates and guest posts on kidney cancer, skin cancer, bladder cancer and the impact of COVID-19 on patient care and research.

Indeed, there was no escaping COVID-19 as the year wore on and its impact became clearer. This inspired a series of three webinars looking at the impact of the pandemic on cancer care, exploring the effect of pandemic spending on oncology services, and considering the potential legacy of SARS-CoV-2 beyond 2022. These webinars gathered a lot of attention with over 1000 attendees in total.

Patients were at the centre of these discussion – a sentiment echoed in this video on home delivery services for kidney cancer patients, in this blog on minimising disruption to clinical trials, and in this blog on working together towards our shared objective – to improve cancer patients lives.

All the while, EFPIA continued to contribute to cancer policy discussions in Brussels and beyond – notably offering a detailed submission to the European Commission’s Beating Cancer Plan and welcoming the formation of a new European Parliament ‘Challenge Cancer’ Intergroup.

What’s next?

In September, we will go further, launching a report on Time To Patient Access (TTPA). The report offers detailed insights on how long some patients must wait for potentially life-saving cancer medicines – and will be a reminder that, for patients with cancer, every day counts. The launch event (21 September 2020) will bring stakeholders together to discuss factors which cause delays, and co-create practical solutions that could accelerate time to patient access. Save the date!  

In addition, we will look into future innovation such as Personalized Oncology, strengthen our collaboration with ECCO and ECPC and work with ECCO on so-called “evidence requirements”, i.e. how so-called new endpoints can be evaluated besides the gold standard Overall Survival (OS) to ensure faster patient access.

It has been a challenging few months and experience suggests predicting what will happen next would be unwise. However, while the future may feel uncertain, one this is for sure: the EFPIA Oncology Platform will continue to serve as a hub for the community of cancer policy and oncology specialists working together to improve the lives of patients.

We look forward to La Rentrée in September and to working with you through whatever challenges come our way.

Alexander Roediger

Alexander Roediger is Associate Vice President, Global Lead Oncology Policy at MSD. Alexander Roediger (1968),...
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