The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) has published a landmark manifesto, ‘a new approach for better medicine in Europe establishing treatment optimisation as part of personalized medicine development’, which sets an international framework for research into personalised cancer therapies. The EORTC is an independent, non-profit cancer research organisation, whose mission is to coordinate and conduct international research to improve the standard of cancer treatment for patients.
Unlike many existing cancer and brain tumour treatments, personalized medicine are therapies that are tailored to the molecular, genetic, or other specific details of an individual patient and/or their tumour. The concept of personalised cancer therapies has emerged out of advances in genetic and molecular testing alongside the development of agents with the potential to target specific tumour features.
Why a manifesto is needed
The EORTC has highlighted that numerous drugs are currently authorised on the market, although there is limited knowledge on how to use them for dose, sequence, combination and duration of treatment. Sub-optimal administration of such treatments may generate unnecessary toxicity for patients alongside incurring potentially considerable costs to national healthcare budgets. There is therefore a pressing need for a consistent approach for these therapies to ensure their optimal use (also termed ‘Treatment Optimization’).
In January this year the EORTC co-hosted a workshop on “Developing novel approaches to deliver better precision medicines in Europe” in the European Parliament, Brussels. Attended by clinicians, industry representative, regulators, HTA bodies and patients, views were shared on providing evidence-generated data to define optimal access to treatments. The challenges for precision medicine, including gaps in knowledge arising from poor regulatory definitions, were discussed.
Following the event, Director General of the EORTC Dr Denis Lacombe travelled to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to further discuss with the European Council a manifesto calling for reforming the current system to a truly ‘patient centred’ approach with coordinated optimisation of treatment in conjunction with drug development.
The manifesto, which is supported by a wide variety of international organisations and stakeholders, including the IBTA, has now been published, and is available to download via the EORTC website here.