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Press Release: Personalised medicine on the move despite Brexit implications

Publication date: 06.07.2016

Cascais, Portugal. 6 July, 2016: Ricardo Baptista, a Member of the Portuguese Parliament and firm supporter of personalised medicine, welcomed attendees and the faculty to the first European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) TEACH Summer School, held in Cascais, near Lisbon.

TEACH stands for Training and Education for Advanced Clinicians and Healthcare professionals (HCPs), and the hosting MP said: “I am delighted that the inaugural summer school on training for the young and gifted HCPs is being held in my home country, and I wish you all a pleasant and productive few days.”

Christine Chomienne, a key player in the event and a past-president of the European Hematology Association, said: “It is wonderful to be here - and equally wonderful and exciting to see that so many young professionals have enrolled.”

She added: “All HCPs in close contact with patients or their patients' families need to be up-to-date with the current aspects of personalised medicine and its latest breakthroughs in order to better understand their patients’ concerns.

“This inaugural summer school recognises that the patient is at the centre of his or her own treatment and health-related decisions, and we have focused heavily on training in ‘how to communicate with patients’ in several key areas.”

Meanwhile, the executive director of the Brussels-based EAPM said: “We have extended the role of the Alliance by being here and engaging in this area. This is in order to further support our members and all stakeholders.”

“Attendees from more than 20 countries have gathered here and the faculty put in place by EAPM and its stakeholders and partners also has a similar EU-wide spread,” he added.

The Summer School began on Monday 4 July and ends on Thursday 7 July. Topics and specialised areas being covered across the week include respiratory diseases, oncology, pathology, imaging, cardiology and hematology. The event’s sponsors are EFPIA, EHA, and genetic giants Illumina.

The Summer School has come at a time when much confusion surrounds the eventual impact of the UK’s decision to vote itself out of the European Union. Ms Chomienne said earlier this week: “With Britain now not too far away from quitting Europe in a legal and practical sense, there are still current and future patients to think about. And their needs must still be met. Training for their doctors and nurses is vital. In fact, it is now more important than ever.”

The vote in favour of ‘Brexit’ will not help matters in this regard and others as, given that healthcare is a Member State competence and health services across Europe are already disjointed, collaboration between UK and EU scientists, as well as those experts operating in the field of, for example, Big Data may well become harder.

And there are other implications. There is sure to be an impact in areas that EAPM has worked hard in over the years, and these include clinical trials, regulation, marketing authorisations, and pharmacovigilance.

On top of this, some in favour of Brexit had argued that 350 million pounds allegedly paid to the EU every week would be pumped directly into the NHS. This idea was rubbished swiftly after the vote (the figures are simply wrong) with now-departing UKIP leader Nigel Farage saying the morning after that he could not guarantee that money would really flow into the service.

And prior to the vote, the British Medical Journal and Nature, plus the Royal College of Physicians and others, had expressed concerns about a UK departure, concluding that Brexit could harm Britain’s health. One scientist stated: "The UK is too small to sustain a world-class programme in isolation.”

But despite the repercussions of Brexit, EAPM’s executive director remained upbeat in Cascais, saying: “The Alliance will continue to work with its affiliates in the UK, and with those across the remaining Member States.”

He also pointed out that there has been good news from another large Member State, France. Its government recently announced plans to invest €670 million in a genomics and personalised medicine programme. Just under one-third of the cash to be invested in the first five years will come from industry as part of a private-public partnership.

The scheme will see the setting up of 12 sequencing platforms across the country, alongside two national centres dealing with data, to aid in the fight against cancer, diabetes and rare diseases.

“We greatly welcome this new development,” said Horgan, adding: “It provides evidence that personalised medicine is moving swiftly and is catching the attention of governments and health services across Europe, as well as key players in the European Parliament and Commission back in Brussels.”

Author: Denis Horgan
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