Europe’s cancer battle has momentum – let’s build on it
Forget about COVID-19 for a moment and think about the original ‘Big C’. Notwithstanding the deeply disruptive impact of the pandemic on services and clinical research, 2020 has real potential to be a landmark year in European cancer policy.
Earlier this year, the European Commission unveiled Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan; Horizon Europe’s Cancer Mission is focusing funding and expertise on key research challenges; the EU4Health programme will reinforce the activities of the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan and the Mission Board on Cancer by supporting actions to improve surveillance, prevention, diagnosis and treatment and care of cancer. And this month saw the launch of the European Parliament ‘Challenge Cancer’ Intergroup. Policymakers are on a mission.
The Intergroup aims to bridge the gap between EU institutions, national governments and stakeholders, as well as European citizens. This is most welcome. It can shine a spotlight on differences in outcomes that exist between Member States and highlight concrete measures that will raise standards of diagnosis and care for all. This is an urgent task and one where we have been focusing our attention and stand ready to contribute.
We hope the Intergroup can serve as a broker, bringing all stakeholders to the table to discuss solutions. It is ideally placed to ensure a holistic view is taken of the societal challenge that cancer poses.
Just as cancer care itself requires a multidisciplinary approach, the Intergroup can look at across the continuum of the patient pathway – at prevention, diagnosis, treatment, living well after cancer – as well as at cross-cutting issues like health literacy, data collection, regulatory change, adaptive trial design and more. I am confident that patient outcomes will be at the heart of MEPs’ thinking at every step.
Attending the launch – virtually, of course – I was struck by the breadth of expertise at the table, and the prominence of the patient voice. As MEP Cristian-Silvu Busoi put it, “Beating cancer is not a task for a single actor”. Commissioner Kyriakides took up the same theme, emphasising the need for teamwork in cancer care: ‘We all understand the imperative need to work together, hand in hand with Member States, patient groups, civil society and industry.’
I could not agree more. We all need to play our part, and the EFPIA Oncology Platform will do all it can to build on the momentum policymakers have generated.