The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the Intelligence Unit on Healthcare of The Economist have developed a report on cancer medicines shortages in Europe [PDF].
Shortage of medicines are a major driver of inequalities in cancer care, and it is important to understand why the shortages happen and how they can be avoided or managed. This report describes the factors leading to cancer drug shortages and contains policy recommendations to prevent them.
Andrew Winterbottom, treasurer and board member of ECPC, participated in the elaboration of the report.
To tackle the issue of cancer medicines shortages, the report poses six basic policy recommendations:
- Introduce EU legislation asking EU countries to notify shortages as soon as they occur
- Establish European strategic plans for medicines shortages
- Develop catalogues of shortages across EU countries
- Develop essential medicines lists and assess the risk for shortages
- Introduce incentives to the pharmaceutical industry to improve the infrastructures producing medicines and avoid shortages due to production issues
- Establish procurement models designed to prevent medicines shortages
The report also acknowledges that there is a critical lack of data on medicine shortages, as well as awareness and accountability around this issue.
Furthermore, there is no data on the impact that shortages have on patients, and research on the causes of the shortages is still insufficient.