A guest blog from the UICC World Cancer Congress

Anyone attending the UICC World Cancer Congress in Kuala Lumpur this week, would get the sense that it is an exciting phase in the fight against cancer. Genomics, immuno- and combination therapies are transforming the outlook for patients.  Treatments are becoming increasingly targeted  to smaller patient population where they are most effective. In many senses cancer is one of a number of new scientific frontiers.
However, when treatment paradigms shift so rapidly, how our health systems evolve to adapt to the rapidly advancing science is challenging all partners in the healthcare community. Amidst the excitement over the science, delegates were engaged in discussions on how to address the challenges of increased demand, scarce resources and the affordability of medicines and cancer care.
These are concerns we recognise, particularly as our healthcare systems cope with an ageing population and increased levels of chronic disease. These concerns have been particularly prevalent in cancer. In reality only 1.5% of total health spending in the EU and US is on spent cancer medicines, from cancer budgets 23% is spent on life saving medicines.  To respond to the needs of patients and our health systems, the industry is committed to working with governments to develop new pricing models like value and outcomes based systems. Innovation doesn’t just apply to new technologies but also how we design and finance cancer care. It will take new levels of collaboration, creativity and partnership - something the EFPIA Oncology Platform is aiming to support, even drive.

And there are still many unmet needs in cancer. It remains the second most common cause of death in the EU. Almost every family has a cancer story to tell and its incidence is on the rise. Breakthroughs are happening. Some are incremental. Some are transformative. All are based on the collective learning from rapidly advancing science. Even the set-backs and false horizons in the research journey are part of the process. One thing is certain #WeWontRest until cancer is nothing to fear.

Tobias Helmstorf

Tobias Helmstorf is Head Pharma Health Policy at Bayer.
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