In 2016 European cancer societies decided to leave their comfort zone and join the access to medicines debate. They established the ECL Access to Medicines Task Force which has since then become an influential advocate in Brussels and in EU capitals, calling for availability of high quality cancer treatments for all European patients while focusing on affordability and sustainability of the medicines supply.
In 2018 the Task Force published the Let’s Talk Access White Paper which analysed the pharmaceutical market from four perspectives: i. disparities in availability of medicines; ii. high prices of cancer treatments; iii. regulatory and systemic issues; and iv. flawed innovation models. Since then, the Task Force has focused primarily on the aspects of pricing transparency and fair pricing definition. The Task Force regularly calls for:
i.Expansion of the EURIPID database which payers and governments can use to share net prices of medicine, conditions of pricing arrangements and other relevant information;
ii.High quality benefit-risk assessment of patient-relevant end-points at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) before granting market access;
iii. Sustainable European collaboration on health technology assessment;
iv.Countries’ participation in joint procurement initiatives to increase their bargaining power in price negotiation with pharmaceutical industry;
v.Guarantees that R&D incentives and patent protection encourage real innovation and are not misused, creating uncompetitive market practice
vi.Greater accountability of public spending on R&D of medicines;
vii.Support of open science, making sure research results of all clinical studies and collected real world data (RWD) are available to researchers; etc.
Currently, the Task Force has been working on an analysis of challenges and benefits of European joint procurement initiatives and exploring the potential and limits of different medicines pricing models.
The Task Force was started by 6 cancer societies who wanted to make a change. Today, 25 cancer leagues work together toward common cause, to ensure European cancer patients have access to high quality cancer treatments. The Task Force strongly believes all stakeholders have a role to play to ensure access to high quality medicines goes hand in hand with sustainability of European health systems. We are calling on others to join the discussion and look for tangible solutions.
To find out more about the ECL Task Force, follow @cancerleagues and #LetsTalkAccess on Twitter, visit www.cancer.eu or contact Anna(at)europeancancerleagues.org.
Eveline Sheres, Head of Public Affairs, Dutch Cancer Society and a member of the ECL Access to Medicines Task-Force will be discussing the EU’s new plans about cancer during the next European Commission mandate at EPHA’s upcoming Universal Access and Affordable Medicines Forum “Time for a New Deal: Challenging the status quo on medicines policy” which takes place on 14 November, at Scotland House in Brussels. Norway’s view on access to medicines, medicines shortages and transparency in pharmaceuticals policy are also on the agenda.