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#WeWontRest until cancer is nothing to fear

#WeWontRest until cancer is nothing to fear
Today, as I head to Vienna to join colleagues from across the healthcare community at ECCO’s European Cancer Summit 2018, I have been reflecting on the impact cancer has on people, on their families and carers and on our healthcare systems. The summit brings together world leaders in cancer care, patient advocacy and industry to advance cancer care in Europe. And following the principle and power of collective action, I am also pleased to see today’s launch of the online presence of EFPIA’s Oncology Platform.  The platform brings together EFPIA member companies, pooling resources, energy and expertise as well as engaging other stakeholders in the fight against cancer.
 
Getting a diagnosis is often a devasting blow, its implications for life expectancy, quality of life, financial security and the impact on loved ones, looms large.  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.
 
A brighter future is on the horizon.
Over the last decade, significant advances have been achieved in cancer outcomes, bringing the average 5-year relative survival rate across all cancer types in Europe to 54% for cancers diagnosed between 2000 and 2007 up from 51.5% in 2000-2002. For European patients diagnosed in 2012, over 66,000 more will live for at least 5 years after diagnosis compared with if they had been diagnosed a decade earlier. While continued improvement in diagnosis and treatment delivery have certainly played their part, so too has the availability of a new generation of targeted treatments,  unlocking the potential of immunotherapy and combination treatments. Our members’ research is starting to explore innovative techniques to interrupt the carcinogenic process, intercepting cancer at its roots, and, as an industry, #WeWontRest until cures replace just treating cancer.
 
Despite the progress, there are significant challenges to overcome.
Major disparities exist in access to cancer care and overall survival rates across Europe. The average 5-year relative survival rate for all cancer types combined range from 40% in Bulgaria to 64% in Sweden. Closing this gap could lead to over 270,000 more people surviving cancer for at least five years.
 
This innovation is arriving at a time when many governments are maintaining flat or declining healthcare budgets. Health spending on cancer as a share of total health expenditure has been rather low (6% of total healthcare expenditure on average in the EU) and stable between 1995 and 2014 despite the growing incidence and relative burden of cancer. If every European country had the same cancer outcomes achieved in Sweden in 2012 [i], over a quarter of a million more people per year would survive for at least five additional years. [ii] Europe’s cancer care faces a number of challenges:
  • There is a mismatch between the rising burden of disease and a roughly flat spend on cancer care reflective of a sluggish economic recovery and tightening funding constraints.
  • There are inconsistencies in prioritisation of cancer care on the public policy agenda despite the prevailing disease burden and amplitude of future challenges.
  • There is a lack of readiness to adjust to the rate and type of innovation in cancer treatment (e.g. multi-indication medicines, combinations, personalised medicine).
  • There is a disconnect between regulatory and HTA / pricing & reimbursement procedures and HTA value assessment frameworks.
  • There are growing disparities in care delivery and outcomes within and across countries especially given that we know that survival rate is not the only thing that matters to patients and their families. Quality of life and returning to as normal as life as possible is incredibly valuable to everyone.
Addressing these challenges in partnership with stakeholders is why I am delighted to be joining a panel on Putting a price on cancer medicines: the challenges and prospective solutions at the ECCO summit. I am convinced that no one sector has all the answers and only by working together can we improve the sustainability and integration of care, including cancer care, accelerate the time it takes to get new treatments to patients and develop tailored pricing and reimbursement models for cancer medicine.    
 
[i] Bengt Jönsson et al., Comparator Report on Patient Access to Cancer Medicines in Europe Revisited, 2016- page 16: The [survival] rates varied from 40% in Bulgaria to 64% in Sweden (external references: De Angelis R et al. Cancer survival in Europe 1999-2007 by country and age: results of EUROCARE--5-a population-based study. Lancet Oncol. 2014;15(1):23-34
[ii] Bengt Jönsson et al., Comparator Report on Patient Access to Cancer Medicines in Europe Revisited, 2016- pages 4 and 16: the  ehe l. ncidence increased  in Eovide positive value in nin countries, but the US lags in health gains per dollar spent, 2016 nt : : estimated cancer incidence was 2.707 million (external reference: Ferlay J et al, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013); The average 5-year relative survival rate for all cancer types combined was 54% in Europe for cancers diagnosed between 2000 and 2007 (external reference: De Angelis R, et al Cancer survival in Europe 1999-2007)

Nathalie Moll

Nathalie Moll joined the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) as Director...
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