Precision Medicine and Personalised Healthcare (Marisa Papaluca-Amati, Elmar Nimmesgern, Virginia Acha, Bettina Ryll, Donald Singer)
Photo by Barbara Freischem
Last week, the European Biopharmaceutical Enterprises (EBE) travelled to Basel to participate in the Drug Information Association (DIA) Europe 2018 conference, one of best opportunities to bring representatives from the entire healthcare value chain to the table to discuss the biggest challenges we face today.
1. Putting patients first
Especially encouraging was the way in which patients and patient representatives were fully engaged in the discussions as thought leaders and partners, alongside industry, regulators, health technology assessment bodies, and many others. While its clear we still have a long way to go, we’ll make progress if everyone continues to communicate and ensure that patients have a say in the development of medicines that ultimately address their needs.
2. The way forward on personalised medicines and advanced therapies
From EBEs point of view, one of the highlights was the opportunity to showcase some of the great work of the EBE – EFPIA joint working groups on personalised medicine and advanced therapies. Several sessions were organised by members of the working groups, and in addition, the themes of advanced therapies and personalised medicine were picked up in sessions organised by other stakeholders. Two major studies sponsored by EBE and EFPIA and its members were presented, including the Escher Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) study and a forthcoming CRA study that explores the economic benefit of personalised medicine for patients, society and healthcare systems.
The sessions provided a chance to have an important discussion with key stakeholders about how to advance personalised medicine. One of the ongoing challenges has been the fact that tailored treatments are used on smaller patient groups, and therefore, the gold standard of clinical trials is not always available. Another important challenge has been that current HTA methodology is not relevant to assess the new wave of personalised medicines. Participants agreed that a collaboration of all stakeholders would be essential to solve these challenges for the benefit of patients.
Similar challenges were discussed for advanced therapies, where the Escher study showed that patient access to these very innovative medicines remains a challenge in Europe.
3. The promise of real word evidence
One area that shows a great promise is real world evidence (RWE), which can be especially effective in situations when there aren’t enough patients for clinical trials (often the case for advanced therapies, but also a challenge for the personalised medicine approach). During the sessions, it was clear that we need to have a serious discussion about how real world evidence can be made acceptable when there’s no other reasonable way to generate data.
4. Digitalisation – the next big evolution
There was a great sense of excitement about digital technologies in healthcare and the opportunities they offer to patients and healthcare providers. One of the most fascinating talks was the keynote speech by George Savage, Chief Medical Officer, Proteus Digital Health, who explained that digital technology will be the next big evolution. He likened the digitalisation of healthcare to the revolution that biologic medicines brought – kudos to the EBE members.
The DIA Europe 2018 conference was an encouraging moment of dialogue between the key players across the healthcare value chain. Of course, we still have a lot of work to do, and we’re looking forward to further collaboration in our efforts to foster innovation across Europe’s biopharmaceutical sector.
Executive Director, EBE