EU Maltese Presidency on Fairer Pricing for Cancer Drugs

New medicines were coming on the market at very high prices, putting healthcare systems across Europe under financial pressure

On 15 February 2017, Council of the European Union (EU) issued a press release in which informed that Malta over the last two days hosted the Closing Conference on the European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control (CANCON), organised under the auspices of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU.

During his address at the conference, Minister for Health of Malta Chris Fearne spoke on the issue of cancer medicine pricing. New medicines were coming on the market at very high prices, putting healthcare systems across Europe under financial pressure. "In May a round table conference will be held in Malta that will discuss this issue together with the industry." Minister Fearne also referred to the launch in March of a network of specialized centres across Europe for better access of expertise for patients with rare diseases.

The overarching aim of the CANCON project is the development and compilation of a European Guide that includes several recommendations that are aimed at improving the quality of comprehensive cancer control and contribute towards reducing the cancer burden in the EU. The guide publication was launched at this conference and will provide a key strategic tool for government and policy-makers. The guide focuses on: Integrated Cancer Control, including the development and implementation of comprehensive cancer control networks; quality improvement in cancer after-care at the community level; survivorship, rehabilitation and governance organisation; and evaluation of cancer screening.

The Member States' Platform of the Joint Action also developed a set of five policy papers that were published, presented and discussed during this conference. Other sessions were devoted to two forward-looking themes: 'Implementation and Opportunities for Cancer Policy' and 'Challenges in Cancer Policy at EU level'. These sessions were aimed at setting the foundations for prospective plans aimed at shaping the future of cancer control in Europe.

Over one hundred and thirty experts from all over Europe attended and participated in the conference. They were joined by over sixty Maltese healthcare professionals and experts engaged in the delivery, planning and evaluation of cancer control services in Malta.

CANCON Joint Action shares its results at a conference in Malta on 14-15 February 2017

The partners of the Cancer Control Joint Action ( CANCON), co-financed by the EU Health Programme, have presented key results from this three-year project to an audience of EU and national policy makers, stakeholders and partners. In particular, the CANCON partners presented the key findings and recommendations from the main deliverable of the Joint Action – the European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety addressed the conference at the High-level Plenary Assembly, welcomed by Chris Fearne, Minister of Health of Malta. The Romanian Minister of Health, MEP Alojz Peterle, President of MEPs Against Cancer, and representatives of a number of national health ministries also delivered speeches at the Plenary.

Presentations and discussions focused on cooperation and implementation of the Guide's recommendations by EU countries, future challenges and opportunities for cancer control policy, tackling social inequalities in cancer prevention and control, and the evolving role of the European Commission in addressing cancer policy challenges.

The programme of the event is available here.

The European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control is aimed at governments, parliamentarians, health care providers and funders, and cancer care professionals at every level. It aims to help raise cancer survival and reduce cancer mortality by:

  • Improving the quality of cancer care among EU countries;
  • Improving the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors;
  • Ensuring reintegration and palliative care and decreasing inequalities in cancer prevention and control.