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  • Europe must guard against knee-jerk reaction on health data, post-ECJ ruling

    The ongoing debate on Big Data and data protection will surely take another turn after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down the Commission’s ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement on data exchanges with the US. 

    In its ruling, the ECJ blasted the US government for “compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life”.

  • Trialogue talks must strike balance between data protection and vital health research

    The debate about the use of Big Data in research is hotting up, and it is clear that the strict lines of personal versus anonymous data will need to be reworked somehow. Due to the explosion in data capture, storage and sharing, the European Commission put forward a new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR back in 2012. The European Parliament then put forward a varied version in May 2014. The latter text takes the view that processing personal data will require informed consent. But this does not take into account the age of the data (how can you get consent from somebody who has passed away?) the use of the data, nor whether or not privacy-enhancing technology is used – partly anonymized, as it were.

  • Cancer congress reveals progress but highlights gaps in care

    The annual European Cancer Congress (ECC) held recently in Vienna was, as ever, a busy and successful event attended by stakeholders from all over the world. The congress was jointly hosted by ECCO and ESMO and is the biggest of its type in Europe.

    Over the course of the event, the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) held a workshop, several meetings and a swathe of high-level interviews, with a view to ‘taking stock’ in an environment that has seen personalised medicine make great strides in the area of oncology. The Alliance’s top-level workshop discussed how Europe should respond to challenges concerning optimizing research to better address the objectives of different stakeholders with competing interests, to make the most of finite opportunities to address important clinical questions in research, and to increase multi-stakeholder collaborations, especially cross-border co-operations.

  • Time for treaty changes and a joined-up approach on EU health

    Whether or not you agree with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s on-the-record assertion that multi-culturalism “has failed, utterly failed,” there have certainly been mixed reactions across EU member states regarding the intake of refugees.

    A couple of weeks ago European Union ministers approved a plan to split the burden of relocating up to 120,000 migrants awaiting placement from Greece and Italy, with each member state taking in numbers based on its economic strength, population, unemployment and the asylum applications it has passed since 2010.

  • ‘EU patients need equal access to the best treatments’, high-level forum hears

    The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) is playing a key role at this week’s European Health Forum Gastein, calling for more EU co-ordination, collaboration, innovation, patient empowerment and equal access.

    With an aging population of 500 million potential patients across 28 member states, health care is a growing burden on the European Union’s health services.

    At Bad Gastein, the EU’s health policy community gathers once each year in the green Gastein valley in Austria to tackle issues in the health arena and EAPM has organised several sessions at the 2015 event, which concludes tomorrow (Friday 2 October).

  • It’s time for an EU-led ‘Joint Action’ on health data

    One of the largest ever planned collections and storage of personal data is currently underway in the United States of America. Back in January, US President Barack Obama launched his Precision Medicine Initiative, or PMI, in his State of the Union Address, stating that the idea was to “bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes, and to give all of us access to the personalised information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier”.

    PMI will have as its foundation a precision medicine database that aims, initially, to hold records of one million human subjects.

  • Europe must act to keep pace with Obama initiative

    Earlier this year, US President Barack Obama launched his Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) – essentially what we tend to call ‘personalised medicine’ in Europe. In his State of the Union Address on 20 January, Obama stated that the idea was to “bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes, and to give all of us access to the personalised information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”  Personalised medicine is a fast-moving field that sees treatments and drugs tailored to a patient’s genes, as well as his or her environment and lifestyle. It relies on DNA sequencing and other new technologies and aims to give the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. It can also work in a preventative sense.

    Up to now, doctors have tended to prescribe medicines and treatments by population. If a treatment works for the biggest percentage of patients, most will default to that. However, it is clear that we are all different and one-size-fits-all approaches no longer work in modern-day health care.

  • Modernizing clinical trials for the benefit of Europe’s patients

    On 25 September at the ESMO-ECCO congress in Vienna, the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine will hold a second annual event on clinical trials to build on the work from last year, and its high-level meetings held in between.

    The meeting in Austria will seek to priortize several issues, and possible solutions, identified by EAPM and its partners and reach consensus on key policy asks that the oncology community should focus on for the next two years.

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