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19 Sep 2012

Personalised medicine promises radical improvements to healthcare in Europe

On Tuesday 18th September, Nessa Childers, MEP hosted the launch of the Manifesto of the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine in the European Parliament.

The Manifesto sets out both the opportunities and challenges of 'a targeted approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease based on an individual’s specific profile' - what is known as personalised medicine.

Currently available treatments for disease have revolutionised health in Europe and beyond, but science has now brought healthcare to the brink of another major evolution.

By a combination of molecular medicine and computer technology, it is becoming possible for screening of patients, early treatment, or prevention to be calibrated precisely, to deliver with maximum effectiveness. With personalised medicine, healthcare services will ensure the right intervention to the right patient at the right time - improving patient outcomes, reducing the likelihood of adverse events, and cutting down unnecessary treatments.
And the precision that personalised medicine will bring creates good prospects for better use of resources. As the demand for healthcare rises and public financing comes under greater strain, personalised medicine can play a part in getting maximum value for spending on health.

The shift towards personalised medicine has already started in fields such as cancer and blood diseases, and new products are being designed to match the approach.
Conditions must be right

But for personalised medicine to deliver on its potential over coming years, the conditions will have to be right. Regulation needs adapting, research needs encouragement, new approaches are needed in assessing the value of personalised medicines, and training of healthcare professionals and awareness among patients and the public need to be boosted.

To catalyse the necessary changes, the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) was created earlier this year. It brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including healthcare providers, payers, industry, regulators, disease specialists, and patients, to promote contact across the many disciplines that contribute to personalised medicine, and to help forge a common approach.

 

The EAPM Manifesto sets out the requirements to take advantage of the opportunities, which include:

• Adapting the authorisation procedures for medicines to take account of the innovative clinical trial designs that personalised medicine will depend on.

• Wider coordination on research in Europe through Horizon 2020, with better access to information for researchers, doctors, pharmacists and patients.

• High-quality molecular testing facilities in Europe.


• Closer regulatory links between diagnostics and treatment.

• Rules on data protection that safeguard privacy while permitting scientific sharing of data.

• Reimbursement of personalised medicines on the basis of their added value to healthcare systems.


• Multi-disciplinary training for healthcare professionals in the new approaches of personalised medicine.

• Wider awareness among patients and the public of the rationale and potential of personalised medicine.

Nessa Childers, MEP said "Europe must not miss out on this opportunity to improve patient care - as well as to make healthcare more precise and effective. But to realise the potential, it is essential for everyone involved, including policy makers and regulators to come together now to create the conditions on which the success of personalised medicine will depend. I welcome the support of the Cypriot Presidency and their work on this issue and look forward to working with the European Commission and the forthcoming Irish Presidency to ensure that this issue remains on the political agenda'.

John Bowis, Chair of EAPM, said: "The future of healthcare lies in a more personalised approach with a focus not only on a person’s biological make-up but also on environmental and lifestyle factors. Personalised medicine offers a chance for dramatically improved treatments and reduces the likelihood of adverse events for patients. However like any innovation it brings challenges to current systems and attitudes, and today we have sought to identify the priorities for policy makers in Europe to meet these challenges."

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