Although cancer diagnosis and treatment have made great strides in recent decades, cancer remains one of the great health challenges of our time. Advances in research are generating new opportunities that require a more flexible and innovative evaluation and access system. It was under this premise that experts, researchers, healthcare professionals and patients met this Thursday in Madrid at the 5th Spanish Summit Against Cancer, organised by the Spanish Cancer Patients’ Group (Gepac).
The director of Farmaindustria’s Access Department, Isabel Pineros, took part in the event, in which she argued that “it is necessary to establish a system of early access to drugs that provide the greatest clinical benefit to cancer patients” and “with the participation of doctors and patients, and with a provisional price that is then adjusted on the basis of results”.
Pineros emphasised this at the round table on The current challenges of access to therapeutic innovation, where he shared a discussion with the director general of the Common Portfolio of Services and Pharmacy of the Ministry of Health, César Hernández; the president of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), Enriqueta Felip; the vice-president of the Spanish Society of Haematology and Haemotherapy (SEHH), Armando López Guillermo, and the president of Gepac, Begoña Barragán.
Pineros also raised the need for a clearer separation of therapeutic and economic evaluation when talking about innovative drugs, especially in cancer: “We must consider the social value of the drug, i.e. include in the evaluation the health and non-health savings and the savings on quality of life. We must not forget what it means for a cancer patient to be able to access medicines that allow them to remain connected to their family, social or even working life.
In recent years, said Pineros, “there has been an increase in the arrival of more personalised and targeted medicines, which avoid many of the adverse reactions of traditional treatments and also improve their efficacy. This is even more relevant in childhood cancer, which is a rare disease and as such a new drug often offers hope in the absence of treatment”.
The president of Gepac, Begoña Barragán, also expressed her concern about the fact that “more and more drugs are not being financed” and said that “it is urgent to know why, we need transparency in the data, why one drug is approved and another is not”.
Cancer is one of the main global health challenges and, moreover, one of the priorities of the upcoming Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the second half of 2023. In this line, as Pineros pointed out, the pharmaceutical industry is at the Administration’s disposal to collaborate and has prepared various proposals to speed up the arrival of innovation to the patient, initiatives that seek greater clarity and objectivity in procedures, greater predictability and transparency in funding decisions. The aim is to meet the deadline established in the legislation for funding decisions, which is 180 days, but currently in Spain it is almost three times longer, 517, according to the access indicators of the W.A.I.T. Report, which is produced each year by the specialised consultancy firm Iqvia.
It is necessary to continue to make progress, said Pineros, who recalled that in the last three years the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has authorised 40 new cancer drugs, some for orphan cancer diseases, others for prevalent tumours and in some cases have been the first existing curative option for the disease.