The issue of access to medicines is of crucial importance for the more than 10 million EU citizens affected by cancer. For this reason, ECPC welcomed the report as a great chance for the European Parliament to take a proactive stance on the issue of access to medicines. We strongly believe that the European Parliament has a responsibility to work in a fast and effective manner on those pressing issues of EU relevance, and within the remit of the EU competence.
In line with the main mission of ECPC (to fight against the unacceptable inequalities in cancer care existing today in Europe), we considered necessary to respond to the own initiative report produced by MEP Cabezon Ruiz on the pressing issue of access to medicines, focusing on those solutions and recommendations that ECPC has developed in the past years to halt the growing inequalities in cancer patients’ outcomes. The paper, together with suggested amendments to the report, was approved by the ECPC Board, to make sure that the position of more than 400 cancer patients’ organisation on access to medicines would be duly represented in the report.
Our position is the following:
- The problem of access to medicines is first and foremost a healthcare issues and not just an economic one;
- Lack of access to meaningful innovative medicines is among the causes of the unacceptable inequalities in cancer survival across Europe;
- Cancer patients live a paradox: science has given us new effective treatments, but not all patients who would benefit from them have access to them;
- For example, one third of all metastatic melanoma patients in Europe (more than 5000 citizens) do not have access to innovative medicines that would save their lives;
- More than 50% of European hospitals have experienced significant shortages in access to essential cancer medicines;
To solve these issues, we suggest to:
- Promote collaboration among Member States to share information and increase transparency on pricing and reimbursement of medicines, with the final objective to make the process more accountable and overall sustainable;
- Better implement the existing regulatory framework (Transparency directive and adaptive pathways) to allow Member States to provide faster and more equitable access to medicines;
- Harmonise the process of health technology assessment at the European level;
- Better regulate parallel trade of essential cancer drugs to avoid shortages across the EU;
- Better involve cancer patients associations in the definition of R&D priorities and within all the decision-making processes related to access to medicines.