It’s a big day in Brussels today (Monday, 2 December) as the European Commission finally has its first working shift in the Berlaymont, a month after the Ursula von der Leyen team was due to take over from Jean-Claude Juncker’s previous executive, writes European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Executive Director Denis Horgan.
It’s also a big day, in fact week, for the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, which holds its third annual congress at the University Foundation in the Belgian capital. More of that anon…
Now that vdL’s team is in place, it seems a good time to mention that EU member states can consult the Berlaymont on how to improve their citizens’ state of health
A State of Health report, issued every two years, last week offered recommendations on improving affordability of medicines while mentioning the ‘brain drain’ of healthcare professionals. Beyond that, here are our main takeaways.
On top of this, the report found that more eastern Europeans die of preventable causes, with preventable mortality highest in Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary. The report includes mortality caused by diseases that could be prevented through vaccination as well as diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles.
Josep Figueras, director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, said: “Up to 1.1 million premature deaths could be avoided in Europe through better prevention and health care.”
Biomarkers in Brussels
While registration is now closed for the third annual Congress set to be hosted by EAPM, you can read all about it after the event in a special report that we’ll be putting together.
The event takes place from 3-4 December, beginning at 15h on Tuesday, 3 December.
However, ahead of the Congress opening, EAPM today held a pre-meeting on exploring how patient access to biomarker testing can be improved.
The event covered such important issues as the role of biomarkers in the diagnosis of cancer, testing for biomarkers (including rates of testing, speed of results and reliability/accuracy) and availability of related therapies.
Also up for discussion was the current limitations of biomarker-testing practices, the potential use of centralised databases, and advice that is, or should be, given to patients linked to biomarker testing.
These topics were placed against a background of expected developments in the field of testing over the next five years.
What is biomarker testing?
Biomarker testing – identifying particular biological traits – plays a key role in personalised medicine at every stage of the treatment pathway – guiding many people on how they might manage their risk of developing disease (linked to their inherited genes), providing information on need for treatment patients’ prognosis and reliable guidance that informs the optimal treatment for the individual patient.
The meeting’s focus was on agreeing a framework for policy action on biomarkers in the European Union. This is designed to guide member states and facilitate consistent decision making, in order that biomarker testing can better be integrated into the EU’s divergent healthcare systems.
This planned-for outcome is key, not leat in providing broad areas that will be up for further discussion through the EAPM congress.
Paul Naish, director, Oncology Advocacy and Government Affairs at AstraZeneca, said today in Brussels: “Timely detection of biomarkers allows patients to avoid treatments which won’t work for them, and where appropriate benefit from the targeted treatments that have been delivered from advances in science.
“The big challenge is to ensure that patients have access to the right testing at the right time, and this is not given enough attention in the EU debate,” he said, adding: “Europe is behind the US in testing and, because advances can’t reach a patient who isn’t tested, the EU needs to fill this gap.”
Also at the event, patient advocate Barbara Moss said: “When it comes to the value of molecular diagnostics, for patients, this lies in safer and more effective therapies, as well as increased confidence and certainty in their treatment decisions.
“Physicians, meanwhile, would be better informed to make the best possible individual treatment decision for their patients, and payers would see more cost-effective healthcare and better budget allocation.”
EAPM’s Executive Director Denis Horgan told attendees: “A key question is what can Member States and the EU do to improve access to testing? Another is what policy framework should we build to facilitate patient access to biomarkers and molecular diagnostic technologies?”
“What is certain is that patients and physicians want information to guide treatment decisions for safer and more effective therapies. And testing helps increase confidence and certainty,” he added.
Category: A Frontpage, EU, European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, Personalised medicine