8 November 2022

Brussels, Belgium – European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) President, Francesco de Lorenzo, was invited speaker in The Economist’s 8th Annual World Cancer Series Europe. The focus of this year’s conference, that takes place in Brussels on 8-9 November, is ”innovation, equity and excellence”. The aim of the event is to identify strategies to accelerate innovation, reduce inequities across cancer control in Europe, and to build towards universally excellent cancer control and cancer outcomes across the continent.

De Lorenzo, invited at the panel “Which novel biomarkers are changing patient outcomes?”, took the opportunity to emphasise the long-term work of ECPC in the field of personalised medicine and biomarkers. He addressed the report “Unlocking the potential of precision medicine in Europe” (Feb.2021), published by ECPC in collaboration with IQN Path and EFPIA, that was based on the results of a survey on access to biomarkers conducted in 2020 in the 27 EU Member States and UK.

“I have direct knowledge of how the situation in Europe is regarding access to biomarker testing. Over 25% of patients with advanced cancer can receive today a biomarker associated therapy. However, the access to precision medicines in Europe is hampered by the limited availability of biomarker testing in several European countries. In fact, current access to high quality oncology biomarker testing is inconsistent across the EU27 and the UK.” said Francesco de Lorenzo.

De Lorenzo also mentioned the fact that medicine development in oncology is rapidly evolving and is therefore urgent to provide access to biomarker testing infrastructures by creating regional testing centres and investing in stakeholder education. Moreover, availability and reimbursement of precision medicine is equally required to facilitate the access to precision medicine.

De Lorenzo concluded that the most important achievement is to have access to both innovative medicine and biomarker testing at the same time. However, as of today, this is not ensured. The solution to this, is to work at European and national level through the recently adopted Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe, and the announced reform of the basic pharmaceutical legislation, which proposes ways to improve access to medicinal products and allow the parallel approval of the medicine and its companion biomarker.

ECPC will continue its endeavour in raising awareness and advocating for concrete policy measures to ensure that the targets of the EU Beating Cancer Plan related to personalised medicine and biomarkers will be achieved at the national level.