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Europe’s health policies ‘must change’ with stakeholders leaving their ‘comfort zones’

23 Oct 2013
Europe’s health policies ‘must change’ with stakeholders leaving their ‘comfort zones’

Brussels, 22 October 2013: ”While there might not be a Tea Party in Europe, we certainly feel the need for change,” said Prof. Louis Denis, director of the Oncology Centre Antwerp, at a Personalised Medicine roundtable in Brussels.

“Our system of health policies must change, but a number of stakeholders don’t feel like changing,” he added, while also calling for greater and better European collaboration in basic research.

Prof. Denis was backed up by the director of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Denis Lacombe, who said: “All stakeholders should leave their comfort zone. We are heading for new forms of clinical research for Personalised Medicine and all of us – that’s pharma, academia, payers, regulators – need to move forward to a new form of collaboration.”

In his presentation Lacombe added: “Patients are waiting for therapeutic improvement and asking us - while we have good technologies - are we really bringing them the best new drugs? And if we look hard in the mirror the fact is that we are not using technology optimally.”

“There needs to be more collaboration, new models…and that means we have to think outside the box,” he said.

Karl Solchenbach, Intel Director European Exascale Labs, picked up on the point of collaboration from a technical point of view by saying that open-source software licensing would facilitate the exchange of data. He added that Intel had been working in the health sector with high-speed computers to help process research data much more quickly. This would be phenomenally quick in the future, he added.

The trio were addressing the event Clinical Roundtable – Horizon 2020: How to provide the right prevention and treatment to the right patient at the right time at the European Parliament.

The roundtable, co-organised by EORTC and the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM), saw around a dozen speakers tackling the broader issues of Personalised Medicine in terms of clinical trials, biobanks, data sharing and more while looking towards the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative.

Made up of experts from the European Union, the pharmaceutical industry, universities and laboratories (and including former research commissioner Phillipe Busquin), the roundtable also heard from Ingrid Maes, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who said: “R&D in the future will be focused on the patient – where is the biggest need? We will build more knowledge and more data will be required meaning more collaboration. This collaboration will not only be within the healthcare space but will involve other data providers, such as Google and Microsoft.”

She added that: “Pharma will have to engage with payers and patients at a very early stage to understand the true value of what they are developing. The emphasis will be on outcomes, clinical, health economic and quality of life outcomes. Outcomes will determine the value of a new treatment and will be the new currency.”

Edith Frenoy, of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), added that: “Science has evolved beyond the current trial system - trials are slow, expensive and inflexible. In the future, large trials may be impossible as treatments become more personalised and science continues to improve our knowledge. This knowledge will bring better outcomes as we remove non-responders through stratification.”

Louis Denis summed up by saying, in future: “Care should be patient-centred and multi-professional, research must be evidenced-based and conscience-based, there should be no randomised trials without secondary endpoints of quality of life and cost efficacy and we need to improve performance with the same amount of money.”

Source: EORTC