Cancer drugs later in Europe than in the US: ‘That costs lives’

New cancer medicines are available in Europe eight months later than for patients in America. As a result, people in Europe die earlier and unnecessarily, confirms Professor Carin Uyl-de Groot of Erasmus University after reporting in the AD.

Uyl-de Groot studied twelve cancer medicines and discovered that a new drug comes onto the market in Europe after an average of 403 days. In America this happens much faster, on average after 161 days.

Before a medicine can actually be administered, it must be checked and authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deals with this.

According to Uyl-de Groot, the EMA takes much longer for these procedures than the FDA. “We thought that the EMA would be more careful in assessing the medicines, that it therefore took longer,” she says in the CCeit Radio 1 Journaal. “But we did not see that again It is unclear to Uyl-de Groot why the procedures at the European branch are taking longer.

Differences in Europe

Once a medicine has been approved, the speed with which it reaches the market varies from one European country to another. This is mainly due to the price that countries are willing or able to pay for it. It is in Belgium, Switzerland, France and Austria that patients have the fastest access to medicines. The Netherlands ranks ninth. “We are not doing well and we are not doing badly, we are in between

The United Kingdom scores very badly. “Patients really are the victims of this type of procedure,” says Uyl-de Groot. “There are medicines in Eastern Europe which, in the end, will not be available at all. And what shocks me is that when you talk about it with manufacturers, they say: it is Eastern Europe. They think in market terms, but they are patients. They have the right to resources and to good health

Price negotiations

According to the professor, the actual commissioning in the Netherlands is delayed mainly because of price negotiations. “That is one of the stumbling blocks of medicines,” says Uyl-de Groot. “Cancer medicines are expensive, and if those prices are much lower, negotiations could also be speeded up. Then that is no longer a point of discussion Treatment with a cancer drug costs around โ‚ฌ100,000.

The CCeit has asked the EEA for a response, but has not yet received one. It tells the AD that it is busy with the coronavirus pandemic and is unable to respond in the short term.