EHA Press Releases


Access for all, as Madrid hematology congress sets the agenda for health

8 June, Brussels: The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) will once again be taking part in a major event in the Spanish capital of Madrid, this time on 22 June. 

The prestigious annual EHA Congress, which brings together Europe’s haematology community, will feature an EAPM roundtable as part of its events schedule.

This is the third such event that EAPM will have hosted at the EHA Congress.

Among those speaking at the Alliance forum will be the European Parliament rapporteur on access, Soledad Cabezon Ruiz. Please see the following for the agenda.

The roundtable comes as a direct result of the ongoing work of the Alliance’s Working Group on Access.

The event focuses on a recent European Parliament report on ‘EU options for improving access to medicines’, a subject which is high on the agenda now, as is healthcare generally, not least in the UK which today (Thursday) held a general election.

Pledges on health from the two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour, tended to focus on the nation’s over-worked and ailing health service. Both pledged billion of pounds over the next five years, with Labour saying it would scrap the public sector pay gap that has left some nurses using food banks.

When it comes to access for patients in Europe generally, (or a lack thereof) there are many and varied reasons to explain why patient access to the right treatment at the right time is being delayed, blocked and made inequitable.

EAPM has previously stated that while no single stakeholder is to blame, every stakeholder has a responsibility to address the situation.

The Alliance has seen many reasons to conclude that the ‘system’ of getting efficacious drugs affordably to those who need them across the 28 Member States is patently not fit for purpose.

One of the key issues across the EU is a shortage of medicines, which can be caused via a multitude of factors ranging from high prices for drugs to treat rare diseases (as the markets are smaller), supply-chain issues, and unforeseen health emergencies.

Solutions to all issues need to be found via agreement at high-level that involves cross-border stakeholders, including healthcare systems, as no single country can solve the issues alone.

And, although the health arena is a Member State competence, when it comes to managing medicine shortages and other aspects of equitable access for citizens, the Alliance believes there needs to be ‘more EU rather than less EU’.

Broadly agreed and implemented incentives in order to facilitate the development of treatment are crucial. Add to this a much-needed preventative element to take into account the ageing population, and the co-morbidities that ageing brings, and the challenges facing the health sector are clearly huge.

The wider issues of access and global health were brought up recently by EAPM co-chair and former EU Commissioner for Health David Byrne in a letter to the recently elected World Health Organization director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In the letter, Byrne wrote: “As you are aware, access for patients to medicines that efficiently treat illnesses must be addressed on a global scale. And while there is currently a lot of optimism around personalised medicine, plenty still remains to be done to turn the potential into reality.

“Among other things, worldwide, there is a need to create a regulatory environment which allows early patient access to novel medicines and treatments.”

All of the above applies, of course, to the EU and the EHA roundtable in Madrid aims to push the agenda further, in a bid to reach consensus and make solid recommendations to the European Parliament and European Commission.