personalised medicine

This blog is part of the Early Diagnosis campaign #BeFirst Early diagnosis and care can prevent illness from developing and slow disease progression. Lab tests, genetic tests, tests for chronic diseases and modern lab diagnostics can help facilitate earlier intervention and improves outcomes for patients and are increasingly valuable in informing treatment choice. Read the other blogs here: Why should we prevent cervical cancer? Because we can , A smarter way to fight colorectal cancer , Kidney Disease: catch it early to save lives and money , For kidney disease patients, treatment education and choice are key to better outcomes , Diagnosing severe hearing loss and deafness ****************************************** World Cancer Day (4 February) is an annual reminder of the heavy burden of cancer globally. We all know someone affected by this disease – a friend, a neighbour, a loved one. While outcomes are improving in many forms of the disease, the word ‘cancer’ still strikes fear in the hearts of those who hear it. Lung cancer is a case in point. The disease kills more Europeans than any other cancer. More than 250,000 citizens of the EU-28 die annually. [1] Lung cancer is often diagnosed late. [2] The impact of the disease can be curbed by diagnosing cases as early as possible – maximising the opportunity for successful surgery or treatment. 2 When diagnosed in the late stages of disease, the chances of being alive in five years’ time are not good: for those diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer, the average five-year survival rates range from 2% to 13%. [3] The outlook is considerably better when diagnosed at stage I. Globally, most patients (58-73%) whose lung cancer is picked up in the earliest stage live longer than five years. 3 Reducing the burden Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT)...
How do we prepare Europe for future technologies? Technologies such as AI, robotics and precision medicine are a mix of challenge and opportunity. But how can we prepare for this new era of tech in the healthcare sector? Modern technologies have immense potential to improve health through promotion, prevention and protection; this represents not only innovation within a specific area, but a general change of the entire healthcare service workflow. To succeed, we need to lay a broad foundation – from investments and infrastructure to patients’ benefits and acceptance. For Europe to truly embrace digital health, technologies need to be made: available, affordable and acceptable. Europe has the opportunity to provide end-to-end conditions to shape the future of health technologies, improving the life of citizens. Success will not come from a sole player. To build trustworthy health databases we need to cross borders and open markets. We need to learn from each other. Front-runner countries must show the way for others. And most importantly, citizens need to trust the system with their data. The EU cannot reach these results, unless all member states are on board. The specifics of national and regional systems require stakeholders on all levels to work together towards the common goal of advancing infrastructure and engaging citizens. Therefore, the European Health Parliament will propose in 2018 that a Connected European Health Area is established to remove structural barriers and act as a vision for infrastructure, and that digital health is included in all relevant policy initiatives to accelerate a meaningful adoption of AI & robotics in healthcare.. Our full report “Breaking down barriers to digital health” will be available in April. Elin Mignérus The European Health Parliament brings a new angle to the work on health policy. By gathering young professionals from across Europe with experiences...
As CzechMed celebrates its 20 th anniversary on 22 March 2018, Miroslav Palát , President of the association discusses the past, present and future Czechia was a different place in 1998 when CzechMed was established to represent the medical devices sector. Since then, the economy has grown by an average of 2.5% per year – with the healthcare sector growing at twice that rate – and the country has joined the European Union. As an industry veteran and President of CzechMed, Miroslav Palát has witnessed a period of great change. What difference has EU accession made for the industry? It has enabled free movement of goods which has been of particular benefit to the exporting industry. We have a number of significant medical devices producers for whom the Czech market alone would have been too small to justify establishing a strong presence. Access to the European market is essential. Joining the Single Market also brought us EU rules which, looking back at the Medical Devices Directive, created an easier environment for import and export of products. In the 20-year history of CzechMed, what have been the biggest trends influencing your work? The biggest trends include ease of market entry but, on the other hand, an increasingly difficult environment in terms of obtaining reimbursement. Regulators have become more sophisticated over the course of the past 20 years: one needs to provide a growing volume of documentation in order to secure reimbursement, even for relatively well-established products. Another major trend is the influx of non-European imports which have, one way or another, obtained a CE mark. There are growing volumes of super-cheap products from the far East on the market. Finally, in negotiating and obtaining funding and reimbursement for new technologies, we consistently see very little room to argue on the basis...
As Germany goes to the polls, the VDGH, which represents in vitro diagnostics companies in Germany, has published a new policy paper on the future of healthcare. VDGH Managing Director Martin Walger tells Gary Finnegan why this is a crucial moment for health policy The paper was released just ahead of federal elections in Germany and seeks to highlight the value of laboratory diagnostics. Tackling major challenges such as access to laboratory innovations, pricing challenges and personalised medicines, the report also applies to other European markets. What practical steps can be taken to accelerate access to laboratory innovations? This is one of the most difficult tasks we have to tackle and there are no simple solutions. If assessment procedures take significantly longer than the IVD product lifecycle, industry will suffer. But do we persuade politicians and decision makers with that argument? We are asking for appropriate methods and decision procedures which are transparent. Are you concerned that prices do not match the quality/value of diagnostic products? Is the situation any worse for diagnostics than it is for devices, IT or medicines? The German market is faced with very low prices for most diagnostics services, and this is especially pronounced in clinical chemistry. A high market concentration among the medical laboratories makes this problem worse. In the long run, the innovation capabilities of our industry also depend on the level of remuneration. Can you give an example of how early diagnosis can improve outcomes for patients and deliver long-term value for the economy and society? As far as I can see, the benefits of early diagnosis to prevent colon cancer are the best documented. Germany will rearrange its early detection programme this year, introducing specific cancer screening tests called "iFOB-Tests" and regular invitations for statutory health insurance patients to participate. The...
The argument has raged for some time and shows no sign of abating any time soon: screening for diseases, yes or no? Take the case of prostate cancer screening: Richard Ablin - the author of “The Great Prostate Hoax”, and the man who claims to be the first to have identified PSA (a protein created by the walnut-sized prostate gland that can easily be measured) - maintains that PSA testing can do, and often does, more harm than good. Ablin, of the University of Arizona, has noted that a man’s PSA levels may be high but that doesn’t mean that he has cancer. On the reverse side of the coin, a low PSA level doesn’t necessary mean that a potential patient’s worries are over in this regard.Yet the fact remains that around one-in-three men aged from 40-60 has traces of prostate cancer, and the risk rises with ageing. So all men should be regularly tested, right? Well, not necessarily… Ablin and others argue that over-testing can very easily lead to over-treatment, including unnecessary invasive surgery to remove the prostate gland. The over-treatment argument has also been used in respect of breast cancer screening, although the figures tend to show that it works very well in a preventative sense and even better in detecting early breast cancer in target age groups. Yet over-treatment is clearly an issue, with many women (plus those aforementioned men with early ‘signs’ of prostate cancer) simply wanting all traces of the disease, or potential disease, removed right away, regardless of the potential cost to them personally or, indeed, fiscally to society in general. So over-treatment is clearly something that cannot be side-stepped. The counter-arguments - and they are very strong ones - is that our ‘social contract’ has obligations to ensure the highest standards possible regarding...
Shouldn’t we be rewarded for healthy behaviour rather than repeatedly punished for being ‘bad’? Fat tax and sugar tax, duty on cigarettes and vodka – everyone can think of a ‘sin tax’ they pay from time to time. These are the penalties we pay for making unhealthy choices. The idea of sin taxes has been gaining ground in recent years. The success of price rises on cigarettes and alcohol in curbing consumption is leading governments to consider what other disease-causing products could be taxed out of existence . In Europe, Denmark were the early movers: they introduced a tax on fatty foods in 2011. It applied to meat, dairy products, oils and certain other foods which contained more than 2.3% of saturated fat. The tax ‘worked’ in that it raised revenue and cut consumption of fatty foods by 4% . However, the policy didn’t last long. It was scrapped within 18 months because the government said the tax was too difficult and expensive to collect. Japan is taking a different route . Instead of hitting shoppers in the pocket to reduce the size of their gut, authorities impose fines on employers and local governments who fail to keep waistlines in check. Other countries, including the UK and Ireland have targeted sugary drinks by proposing a ‘soda tax’ to nudge consumers into making healthier choices. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver – a campaigner for healthy eating – hailed the move as a victory for children’s health. He was so happy about the new tax that he did a little dance at the end of a TV interview which was captured by BBC! There’s no doubt that taxes can be used to push people into making ‘better’ choices. But what ever happened to incentives for positive change? GPs in the UK get bonuses...