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A busy year, before a hectic autumn

What a year it has been so far. And, with a new European Parliament now in situ and a renewed European Commission agenda due in the autumn, things are likely to become even busier after the summer lull. We are heartened by Ursula von der Leyen's commitment to fighting cancer and are ready to partner with the Commission and all stakeholders to find common solutions to the key challenges in cancer care.

To help you battle through these warm and (relatively) quieter days, we’ve pulled together a roundup of the top issues we’ve covered on the EFPIA Oncology Platform in the first half of 2019.

World Cancer Day in early February prompted a flurry of activity in the oncology community, helping to focus minds (a) on the progress we have made together over several decades and (b) on the challenges that lie ahead.

In case you missed it, Nathalie Moll, EFPIA Director General, summarised the task ahead by drawing on the three priorities set out in Taking Action Together – a document devised by a diverse group of oncology stakeholders committed to improving cancer care.

It calls on healthcare actors to:

  • improve the sustainability and integration of cancer
  • accelerate the time it takes to get new treatments to patients
  • develop tailored pricing and reimbursement models for cancer medicines

Check out the blog post if you fancy diving into the detail.

A world without cancer?

On World Cancer Day, we also published an insightful interview with Kees Roks, Novartis Oncology, on how cancer might one day be eliminated. He explored some of the most promising trends in oncology, including target therapies and immuno-oncology. Perhaps inevitably, the potential of data science to catalyse progress in cancer care also came up.

Data has been a recurring theme in 2019 to date. Deepak Khanna’s post about key data points offered some fascinating insights on cancer mortality, health spending and access to medicines, along with data on outcomes.

Generating actionable insights to advance care from patient data remains one of the big challenges in modern healthcare. In oncology, combining -omics data, electronic health records and claims data, for example, promises to deliver a more precise, more personalised approach to diagnosis and treatment. To drive this conversation forward, the Oncology Data Landscape in Europe project published an unprecedented overview of how cancer data is collected and used.

As Vincent Clay discussed in his April article, the need to identify blockages, emerging trends and solutions requires a collective response. That was the inspiration behind the Oncology Data Summit we hosted in Brussels in June. It helped to bring together healthcare actors committed to unlocking the full potential of oncology data, making a very worthwhile event.

Conferences and congresses are a regular feature of this blog series. Our members regularly attend events where experts and stakeholders share valuable insights on the future of cancer care. Of course, none of us can attend everything, so it is great to be able to catch up on the highlights by reading blog posts by people who were on the ground at major events.

If you missed Tobias Helmstorf on genomics, Šarunas Narbutas on HTA in Lithuania, or Ivana Cattaneo on artificial intelligence and ‘digital twins’, now is the time to catch up!

Pricing and access

Looking back over the year to date, the other running themes were access to medicines and pricing. This conversation was sparked by a WHO technical report on the price of cancer medicines. While we have fundamental concerns on the approach taken in the report and the conclusions the authors reached, it led to a worthwhile debate about value, innovation and access.

Nathalie Moll outlined some of the issues arising from the report; Brian Cuffel called for a stronger link between price and value; while Alexander Roediger looked at the wider issue of price transparency.

The WHO report also prompted a guest post by Bettina Ryll, a medically-trained scientist who founded the Melanoma Patient Network Europe after her husband died of the disease. Her comments on value were particularly poignant.

The report had been critical of the costs of drugs that add three months to patient’s lives, describing the benefit of some medicines as ‘small’. Dr Ryll’s view is that three months can be of relatively high value, depending on the circumstances:

‘Unless you have experienced a terminal cancer diagnosis, you have no concept of what three more months would mean at the end of your life. When you’re not sick, three months seems like nothing. When you know your time is limited, three months can mean a lot, especially when the quality of life is good.’

Ready for La Rentrée

As you have seen, the EFPIA Oncology Platform addresses the big issues in oncology, offering detailed perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders. As we look ahead to a hectic autumn, we are already planning to tackle topics that will shape the future of cancer.

We hope you will continue to read and enjoy the diverse voices to which we give a platform and if you want to contribute and join the dialogue get in touch with us at communications@efpia.eu

We believe that cancer is a complex reality and a moving target – only by an approach inclusive of all stakeholders in the field, coming together to enhance dialogue and collaboration, can we drive towards a better future for patients, caregivers, and society.

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