Cancer is still an unbeaten disease in the EU. There are 2.45 million new cases and 1.23 million people die from cancer ever year. And despite important progress made in the prevention, screening and treatment of many cancers, finding a definitive cure for cancer still remains an elusive goal.
But recent findings with therapies that use the body’s immune system to fight cancer (immuno-oncology therapies) have enabled long-term, quality survival for patients with many forms of advanced cancer.
On the 19th November 2014, the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), together with Philippe de Backer, MEP and Cristian Silviu Busoi, MEP, launched two important new documents at the European Parliament (Immuno-oncology: a policy action framework and What is immuno-oncology: a guide for patients). These documents are designed to improve the understanding of policymakers and patients of immuno-oncology therapies and the role that they may play in the future care of cancer patients.
Both documents were authored by the European Expert Group on Immuno-Oncology, an independent network of patients, oncology healthcare professionals, scientists, researchers, and politicians who worked together to develop concrete recommendations of how European and national policymakers could encourage rapid and appropriate access for patients to immuno-oncology therapies across Europe.
The Policy Action Framework on immuno-oncology makes concrete recommendations that can be made both by EU-level policymakers and national politicians, including creating more flexibility in regulatory and value frameworks, ensuring that appropriate funding is provided for innovative cancer therapies, and integrating these therapies into cancer plans. Philippe de Backer, co-chair of the European Expert Group, states: “Bringing innovation and new therapies quickly and safely to the patient is crucial. Therefore, the EU should create a framework that stimulates excellent research and allows new therapies to come to the market without unnecessary delay. This can improve the lives of thousands of patients.”
Improving understanding of immuno-oncology and its potential by health care professionals and patients is key. For this reason, the expert group also supported the development of a patient guide. Professor Francesco de Lorenzo, co-chair of the Expert Group and President of the European Cancer Patient Coalition, states: “Immuno-oncology therapies offer significant potential for patients with many forms of cancer, and for many of them, they offer long-term remission when no other treatment possibilities exist. Our understanding of how these therapies work is evolving rapidly. Therefore it is essential that we provide patients with accurate, up-to-date information to help them have a meaningful dialogue with their doctors about the role that these therapies may play in their treatment.”
Dr. Busoi concluded the meeting stating: “It is important that we start working together to make the recommendations from the immuno-Oncology action framework a reality, in order to ensure patients equal access to these innovative therapies as quickly and effectively as possible. Cancer patients across Europe must experience the long-term survival and value these therapies bring. ”
Both documents are available for download below:
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About the report: These expert recommendations have been collected and edited by SHW Health Ltd. working together with the European Expert Group on Immuno-Oncology, an independent network of patients, cancer specialists, scientists and industry representatives. Members of the European Expert Group on Immuno-Oncology are: Francesco de Lorenzo (European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC)); Philippe de Backer, MEP; Cristian Silviu Busoi, MEP; Cedrik M. Britten (Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT); Marc van den Bulcke (Institute of Public Health, Belgium); Szymon Chrostowski (Let’s Win Health Foundation, Poland); Christoph Huber (CIMT); Burçak Karaca (Turkish Immuno-Oncology Society); James Larkin (Royal Marsden Hospital, UK); Cilia Linssen (Lung Cancer Europe (LUCE)); Olivier Michielin (European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)); Mihaela Militaru (ECPC); Ingrid van den Neucker (European CanCer Organisation (ECCO)); Francisco Ventura Ramos (Portuguese Institute of Oncology, Lisbon) Financial and organizational support was provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb for meeting costs, layout and printing of this document. The sponsor provided comments on the document, however the content of the document reflects consensus from the members of the expert group who had full editorial control.