About A2M TF
Established in 2016, the ECL Access to Medicines Task Force aims to make safe and effective medicines available to all cancer patients in Europe, by insisting on accessibility, availability, affordability and increased transparency related to medicine prices, ultimately leading to sustainability of healthcare systems. The Task Force strongly believes in the power of constructive dialogue. We urge all stakeholders to push for accessibility to high quality treatments, improving both survival and the quality of life of cancer patients. ECL Task Force connects 24 national/regional cancer societies in 22 European counties, representing over 500 million Europeans.
Introductory Word from the Task Force’s Chair
The times are exciting for the Access to Medicines Task Force. The new European Commission launched several policy initiatives that touch the core of our remit. The initiatives will shape the pharmaceutical market and the cancer policy in the coming decade. The Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is going to promote actions at every key stage of the disease (prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship). The Pharmaceutical Strategy strives to guarantee that new medicines are available quickly and under all circumstances to patients across Europe.
We grabbed the opportunity to influence these initiatives. We published a position paper on Europe’s Pharmaceutical strategy and are advocating for the recommendations in the paper. A meeting with the European Commissioner of Health is scheduled. Due to the work and expertise of the Task Force, ECL’s position paper about Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan contains an important chapter about access to and development of medicines.
An unforeseen challenge is the COVID-19 crisis. The Task Force should come to grips with its consequences. The rush for an effective vaccine may change the role of governments in pharmaceutical markets and their attitude towards international collaboration. The consequences for cancer drug development and affordability are still unclear. We need to stay on top of these developments so that we are able to answer the consequences as soon as possible.
Thanks to the expertise of the members of the Task Force, we can approach the future with confidence. The publication of the position paper ‘What is a fair price?’ has proven this. The thorough analysis in this paper is very inspiring for discussions about price and pricing. This became clear during the launch of the paper and in the invitations of several pharmaceutical firms to discuss the contents of the paper. The workshop on international collaboration and public procurement that will take place in spring 2021 is the next opportunity to influence the pharmaceutical policy in Europe.
All of the above has been achieved in difficult circumstances. The last time that we met in person was in Dublin, in the Autumn of 2019. Communication since then has been purely online, which makes it more difficult to have thorough discussions and develop creative ideas. Our organisations are under stress because all our activities, from fundraising to patient support, have to be re-thought. It is more difficult than usual to break into the agenda of officials who have to deal with an unseen public health crisis.
The mission of the A2M TF is not yet accomplished. A new case of cancer is diagnosed in the EU every 9 seconds. Many of these patients need new treatments, which offer hope of a longer and better life. But there are many hurdles to making these treatments quickly available to every new patient. Prices of new generations of therapies, e.g. gene therapy and cell therapy, reach a new order of magnitude and range from $100.000 to $800.000. Many countries experience increasing issues with drug shortages. I’m convinced that we can make a difference. We are a small but dedicated group of people. 30 cancer societies from 25 countries are members of the Task Force. Together, these societies represent more than 500 million Europeans. If we make our voice heard, we will have an impact.
Chair, ECL Access to Medicines Task Force