On September 25th, the EAU and the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine co-organised a roundtable event at the European Parliament in Brussels, hosted by Petru Luhan, MEP. The event focused on urological care in Europe and providing the right prevention and treatment to the right patient, at the right time. Mr. Luhan has been an advocate for improving healthcare around the European Union, a goal shared by the EAU.
The roundtable event served to bring together representatives from patient organisations, the pharmaceutical industry and urologists to highlight the importance of investing in continued research and innovation in urological care. The roundtable was envisioned to inform Members of the European Parliament on active research and development activities, and the state of personalised medicine in urology.
Luhan: “Even in 2013, we still see some member states lagging far behind in healthcare: from technology to reimbursement, to availability of new medicines. I consider health to be the most valuable asset of EU citizens. Since being elected in 2009, I have tried as much as I can, to get healthcare on the competence list of the European institutions by the next treaty change.”
“In order to be successful, we need to standardize healthcare systems, especially in new member states. New knowledge must be translated to medical applications with direct benefit for the patients.”
At the roundtable event, the EAU was represented by Secretary General Per-Anders Abrahamsson. Four prominent European urologists provided best practice examples from their native countries. Prof. Didier Jacqmin of the EAU Strategy Planning Office, who was also there in capacity as treasurer of the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, gave a French perspective.
Profs. Brausi (IT), Stenzl (DE), and Llorente (ES) did the same for their respective countries. and the roundtable also featured representatives of prostate cancer patient organisation Europa Uomo, a perspective on imaging techniques and an industry representation in the form of the Innovative Medicines Initiative.
An important point of discussion at the roundtable was “Horizon 2020”, the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation. The total budget to be released between 2014 and 2020 is around €70 billion, with substantial opportunities for new medical research. The EAU can play an important role in ensuring that part of this budget goes to research and innovation opportunities in the field of urology.
Mr Luhan explained the key role that the EAU can and should play in this process:
“The EAU is able to get representatives from patients, industry, research and medical practitioners at the same table to generate new concepts. It can make concrete proposals for legislative power, in a proper legislative framework, suitable to the needs of patients, industry, hospitals and so on. The EAU can help by focusing on healthcare infrastructure, and spreading know-how as generated in certain countries.”
“The interests of pharmaceutical companies, governments and patients are not always in line. We have to moderate the collaboration somehow; we have to elaborate concepts together with all relevant stakeholders.
The EAU Perspective
EAU Secretary General Prof. Per-Anders Abrahamsson reflected on the meeting: “Our members need to know about Horizon 2020, and we need to appropriate a part of that budget for urological research. The EAU needs to do more to profile itself in Brussels and Strasbourg.”
“We need to show politicians across Europe, and the European Commission that we are very serious in terms of on-going research activities, both under the umbrella of the EAU, and also basic and translational research around the world. For example, we’ve proven to be rather successful in integrating all laboratories across Europe, working on a single database. We need to continue with this.”
Practically, Prof. Abrahamsson outlines the steps the EAU will need to take to take part in Horizon 2020. “We will need professionals to help write an application. We can come up with very bright ideas and concepts, and interesting hypotheses and proposals, but if we don’t write a good application, we will fall at the first or second hurdle.”
“The European Alliance for Personalised Medicine is one of the instruments we are using to gain more information on how to approach Horizon 2020.”
On October 15th, Profs. Jacqmin and Stenzl are due to take to part in an expert policy roundtable on bladder cancer at the European Parliament. This will help formulate legislation on the prevention and management of bladder cancer.