Latest European News: April 2011
- UK-EU Health and Science Policy Group Meeting
- GAVI support for HPV vaccines could significantly reduce the incidence of women and girls in developing countries contracting cervical cancer
- Summary of the 5th European Conference on Tobacco or Health (ECTOH) held 28th-30th March 2011 in Amsterdam.
- Innovation in Healthcare from Research to Market
A meeting of the UK-EU Health and Science Policy Group was held on Friday 1st April at the Angel Building. This was the third meeting of the group, which is coordinated by Cancer Research UK and meets to share information on EU issues of mutual interest and coordinate some activities.
The attendees included representatives of: Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), BioIndustry Association (BIA), British Heart Foundation (BHF), Genetic Alliance UK, Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and Wellcome Trust. We discussed EU issues of interest we are each working on, and discussed recent developments on issues such as measures to support innovation in Europe, pharmaceutical pricing, clinical trials and data protection.
We have drafted a joint paper on the Clinical Trials Directive, which is a priority issue for CR-UK. Following discussion of the draft, an updated version is to be circulated for final comments in late April and will be signed by several of the members of the group and then shared with other UK organisations and pan-European groups to see if they can support the position. This should illustrate wider support for key points of CR-UK’s position on the regulation of clinical trials.
On the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2011, the GAVI Alliance* and Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) called for HPV vaccines to be made available to women and girls living in the poorest countries of the world.
Every year, some 270,000 women die from cervical cancer and another 500,000 receive a new diagnosis. Over 80% of cervical cancer cases and deaths occur in developing countries, where cervical cancer is the second most common cancer-related cause of death among women. When a woman dies from cervical cancer, she is usually at the prime of her life, generating family income and caring for children as well as other family members. Now that safe and effective HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines are available that can prevent 70% of cervical cancer cases, developing countries are keen to provide the vaccines but cost is a major barrier.
The GAVI Alliance is working with its partners to accelerate the introduction of HPV vaccines into poor countries by making the price affordable. It is also supporting the World Health Organization to develop guidelines for introduction.
Over the past 10 years, GAVI has supported the immunisation of 267 million children against hepatitis B, a leading cause of liver cancer, and averted an estimated 3.4 million deaths. Hepatitis B vaccine is now in routine use in most developing countries.
*The GAVI Alliance is a global health partnership of stakeholders in immunization from the private and public sectors. There will be a GAVI pledging conference held on June 13 2011 in London.
The 5th ECTOH was hosted by the Dutch Cancer Society and the Association of European Cancer Leagues. The UK and Ireland ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the tobacco control league table for 2010 launched at the conference and it became clear that this was in no small part due to the strong engagement of the NGOs. In contrast to countries like Germany and the Netherlands where the NGOs are fairly inactive, tobacco control is faring far worse. Plenary sessions focused on: the FCTC; tobacco industry interference in EU and national policymaking; social inequalities and smoking; end game scenarios, and the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) review.
Dr Anna Gilmore, Bath University, summarised industry ‘lines’ and tactics that we can expect on plain packaging including innovations in pack design and price-based marketing. Laurent Huber, Framework Convention Alliance, emphasised the opportunity of the UN NCD Summit in September 2011 to elevate the FCTC on Governments’ health and development agendas. Amanda Amos, Edinburgh University provided convincing evidence that equity impact must be considered in all tobacco control policies if health inequalities are to be reduced. Neil Collishaw, Physicians for a Smokefree Canada, discussed a supply-side solution to tobacco use whereby companies would be bought out and re-programmed to decrease rather than increase sales – showing that the costs involved are far less than the costs of the tobacco epidemic continuing. Florence Berteletti from our Smokefree Partnership emphasised the need for delegates to engage their MEPs to support mandatory picture warnings on 80% of both back and front of packs and plain packaging within the TPD review.
The presentation of CR-UK’s very major activity to gain a point of sale display ban was well received and there may be a similar session on POS at the world conference next year. Cancer Research UK was mentioned several times in plenary and parallel sessions, either praised for its activities eg media work or acknowledged for its research support.
At the end of March the European Commission hosted a conference to discuss innovation and healthcare. Key themes for the two-day event focused on knowledge creation and transfer, and how to fund innovation, with a particular interest in personalised medicine.
With 500 delegates from all over Europe, including researchers, policy makers, journalists and funders, discussion was positive, focusing more on opportunities than barriers, looking for ways to encourage and promote innovation, and to build on existing expertise. While opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) dominated much of the conversation, in considering the role that they had to play in the commercialisation of research, there was also opportunity to discuss the roles of charities, including a presentation by David Nelki from the Wellcome Trust, and consideration of the role of venture philanthropists.
Personalised, stratified and individualised medicine also featured heavily in many of the sessions, demonstrating an increasing appetite for innovation and commercialisation to feed into this area of research.
Speakers included John Dalli, Commissioner for health and consumer policy, Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the EC responsible for industry and entrepreneurship and Márie Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for research, innovation and science.
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team