Why it matters

The challenge of access to medicines is of crucial importance to millions of Europeans affected by cancer every year. Whilst no one country is immune to access issues, some regions and countries in Europe face greater difficulties than others. Several factors have an impact on access to medicines, from regulatory standards to funding systems and the varying nature of healthcare systems across Europe – all adding to inequalities across Europe.

The European Parliament adopted a report, on its own initiative, on the ‘Options for Improving Access to Medicines’ – presenting an opportunity for the European Parliament to take a proactive stance on the issue of access to medicines. It makes several calls for action aimed at EU and Member State institutions to address the most urgent challenges when it comes to access to medicines, stressing the added value of European cooperation.

“Medicine shortages needlessly reduce the outcomes and quality of life of cancer patients who are faced with the distress of having to discontinue a treatment indefinitely. We call on European policymakers to enact a regulatory framework that monitors and prevents medicine shortages”

What ECPC adds

Access to medicines is a crucial issue across all health sectors, but it is especially acute for cancer patients. In line with the main mission of ECPC – to fight against the unacceptable inequalities in cancer care existing today in Europe – ECPC contributed to the European Parliament report, focusing on those solutions and recommendations that ECPC has developed to halt the growing inequalities in cancer patients’ outcomes. The report also contains the majority of amendments proposed by ECPC in a detailed position paper, which aimed to make sure that the position of more than 400 cancer patients’ organisations on access to medicines would be represented.

ECPC continues following up on the report, and has: co-hosted an event on ‘Access to Innovative Oncology Drugs in Europe’ with the Cancer Drug Development Forum; published a White Paper on ‘Value of Innovation in Oncology’; co-signed an ESMO Call to Action to tackle shortages of essential cancer medicines; and launched an ‘Access’ section on the ECPC Immuno-Oncology Portal, a patient resource on the availability and reimbursement of immunotherapies in all EU Member States. In 2018, ECPC launched the first Personalised Medicine Awareness Month to drive awareness and policy change to ensure that all cancer patients in Europe have access to the right treatment at the right time.