The Marie Curie Legacy Campaign, pioneered by the ESTRO Cancer Foundation (ECF) and ESTRO, is a global initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of radiotherapy (RT) and optimise the provision of radiotherapy in Europe and beyond.
In November 2018, a white paper was launched, calling upon policymakers to help close the gap in utilisation of radiotherapy across Europe, entitled “Radiotherapy: seizing the opportunity in cancer care”.
On behalf of the radiotherapy community, the Marie Curie Legacy Campaign hosted a policy forum to present a five-point plan to help close the gap in availability and utilisation of radiotherapy across Europe, and outline activities underpinning the ESTRO vision. This event was kindly hosted by Lieve Wierinck MEP on 31st of January 2019 at the European Parliament.
COCIR contributed to the discussion, during a panel, highlighting that RT has moved from palliation to curative treatment in the past years and that such an impressive development of clinical outcomes has been achieved by a small industry sector with only a handful of companies. One example is radiotherapy for prostate cancer treatment, which was typically delivered in 39 treatments while now it can be delivered in 5-7 treatments. Unfortunately these opportunities are not reflected in the general healthcare system as RT only constitute about 7% of cancer care costs.
COCIR is working with its industry members to analyze the RT landscape throughout Europe and beyond. In doing this we observe the following;
1. Equipment density: big differences in number of treatment units per capita between Western and Eastern Europe (see hereafter the overview based on collected data from our members)
2. Installed base: inequalities in term of availability of equipment as still today there are no RT equipment at all in 23 countries around the globe. We also need to ensure ageing equipment are properly maintained or upgraded and that personnel continues to be properly trained.
3. Equipment capability: big differences in ability to provide advanced treatment protocols
4. Variation on treatment access to clinical protocols based on:
- Variation on level of training for staff
- Variation in indications covered by reimbursement (a national responsibility)
COCIR Conclusions and ways to jointly address current gaps
It is critical to have a multistakeholder and multidisciplinary activities based on patient centered approach. Industry is part of the solution but, in order to maximize use of the technologies we need to work together with the continuing support of policymakers at European, national and regional level on the following:
1. Build awareness of value-add of RT in treating cancer patients
2. Collect data and understand variations across Europe to facilitate reimbursement processes in various countries
3. Improve innovative procurement process to increase access to technologies
4. Develop and allow new financing models sharing risks between public and private sectors (ref Managed Equipment Services)
5. Increase mid and long term investment on supporting development of innovative technologies but also invest more on training as we observe that resources are limited
6. Ensure that legal and regulatory processes enables 1) a vital and innovative European medtech industry and 2) ease of access to technology in Europe.