Discrepancies between licensing and reimbursement decisions have an impact on patient access to cancer treatment, according to research presented at the ESMO 2017 Congress held September 8 – 12, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.[1]

Conducted on behalf of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), the study evaluated decisions by authorities in 11 European countries and Canada on anti-cancer medicines approved by the European Medicines Agency and Health Canada between 2006 and 2016 for six tumour types. It found that 34% of assessments led to complete or partial restrictions in access to medicines, potentially impacting more than 200,000 patients.[2]

Differences between countries on the number of drugs with restricted access were independent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Varying restrictions
The researchers said that licensing and reimbursement decisions appear to be fragmented, resulting in varying restrictions that impede the use of effective medicines among clinically eligible patients and result in substantial loss of life years.

?There are potentially 200,000 patients in 12 countries who by licence should have access to drugs but are not getting them because of the reimbursement decision,? said lead author Mrs Jan McKendrick, senior director, PRMA Consulting Ltd, Fleet, UK.

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?The findings were independent of GDP so this was not purely down to a country?s financial situation,? she further noted.

?In some countries the reasons were clear ? for example Canada only reimburses the trial population and the UK conducts a cost-effectiveness assessment ? but many countries don?t publish the rationale,? she explained.

Equal access
?Facilitating equal access to optimal cancer care to all patients is a key part of ESMO?s mission,? said ESMO President-Elect Professor Josep Tabernero, Head, Medical Oncology Department, Vall d?Hebron University Hospital, Director of the Vall d?Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Barcelona, Spain.[3]

?The ESMO Cancer Medicines Working Group brings together representatives of patient groups, pharmaceutical companies, national and regional health systems, and reimbursement bodies to work towards value based reimbursement based on local parameters.?

?The ESMO European and International Consortium Studies on the Availability and Accessibility of Anti-Neoplastic Medicines give data to health authorities to assess whether anti-cancer medicines are available and affordable to patients who are prescribed them,? he concluded.

Last editorial review: September 11, 2017

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