Experts call for faster access to cancer therapies

Experts call for faster access to cancer therapies

2023-09-19 09:03:09

Several major medical societies and patient associations, as well as independent experts who make up the OncoLAB Advisory Board, call for accelerating the arrival of innovative treatments to cancer patients.

From left q right, the director of EFEsalud, Javier Tovar; Citizens MEP Susana Solís; the socialist MEP Nicolás González; the director of the OncoLAB Advisory Board, Candela Calle; AstraZeneca’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Market Access, Marta Moreno; PP MEP Pilar del Castillo; the director of the European Parliament Office in Spain, María Andrés; and Vox MEP Margarita de la Pisa/EFE/David Fernández

The OncoLAB Advisory Board, a space for analysis and exchange of knowledge in the field of cancer in Spain promoted by AstraZeneca and composed of experts more than 20 scientific societies and patient associations, has presented the document “Now, solutions. Bringing innovation closer to the patient.”

The person in charge of presenting the work was the director general of the Fundació Sant Francesc d’Assís y director of the OncoLAB Advisory Board, the doctor Candela Street. She did so at an event at the European Parliament office in Madrid in which four MEPs from different political formations have participated in a debate co-organized by AstraZeneca and the EFE Agency on “the impact of European pharmaceutical legislation on the healthcare ecosystem”.

“A structural problem”

The experts maintain in the document that Spain “faces a structural problem” regarding the evaluation and financing procedure for innovative cancer drugs. Thus, it indicates that patients had to wait an average of 611 days to access innovative therapies in the analyzed periods ranging from 2017 to 2021.

Candela Calle, during the presentation of the document. EFE/David Fernández.

Figures that are far from those of Germany or Denmark, as highlighted by Calle, where the wait is reduced to 102 and 145 days, respectively.

OncoLAB experts abound that “the lack of agility and alternatives to the process of access to new anti-cancer drugs in Spain is “evident.”

But they also consider that there is a lack of systematization of the methodology, as well as transparency of the process in the pricing and financing of drugs. And they maintain, among other things, that in therapeutic positioning reports “there is no public information” about the status of the files, comments or allegations of the different participants.

A “more homogeneous” meaning of the meaning of innovation

The resulting delays, the experts continue in the document, “create a clear difficulty in access” to innovative cancer therapies. This implies that Spanish cancer patients “are losing the opportunity to access innovative drugs and, consequently, greater survival.”

Candela Calle during her presentation with the director of EFEsalud, Javier Tovar. EFE/David Fernández.

This is why they believe that Spain should prioritize “bringing innovation closer to cancer patients because it is also an opportunity from a health, economic and social point of view.”

Furthermore, there are studies that show thatAn investment of one euro in innovation saves up to seven euros in the healthcare process.

According to the document, the “stigma” regarding the economic aspects of healthcare has also hindered the timely landing of new medications.

OncoLAB raises the need to introduce improvements in the evaluation and financing process of new cancer therapies and advocates for a “more homogeneous” meaning of the meaning of pharmaceutical innovation. And experts believe that it can contribute to establishing consensus on the criteria that facilitate patients’ access to new therapies.

Debate on European pharmaceutical legislation

The MEPs who participated in the event, moderated by the director of EFEsalud, Javier Tovar, have also addressed the need to shorten time in this field. while they have debated the review of EU pharmaceutical legislation.

From left to right, the director of EFEsalud, Javier Tovar, and the MEPs Nicolás González (PSOE), Pilar del Castillo (PP), Margarita de la Pisa (VOX) and Susana Solís (CS). EFE/David Fernández.

So, socialist MEP Nicolás González has opted to advance this regulation that has been “untouched for 20 years” despite the problems that exist in the EU, for example, he has highlighted, regarding the shortage of medicines and the lack of production in this field.

The PP MEP Pilar del Castillo has pointed out the lack of a European industrial policy that became evident with the pandemic when it was seen that supply chains were not in the EU and has insisted that the pharmaceutical industry is “fundamental” in this sense; In addition, he has urged the reform to be approved before the European Parliament is dissolved for the next elections, which will be in June 2024.

For its part, Citizens MEP Susana Solís has emphasized that European legislation must prioritize putting the patient at the center, ending inequalities in access to innovation in the EU, as well as incentivizing the biopharmaceutical industry.

By Vox Has intervened MEP Margarita de la Pisawho has stated that there is work ahead in this reform as he has defended greater accessibility to treatments and more quickly, although the tool to achieve this, he has opined, “maybe” is not just a European directive.

Work together in search of alternatives

At the beginning of the event he intervened AstraZeneca’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Market Access, Martha Morenowho highlighted that Europe and pharmaceutical companies work together in search of alternatives for equitable and efficient access to medical advances.

Marta Moreno, Director of Corporate Affairs and Market Access at AstraZeneca. EFE/David Fernández.
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