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Home » Breast Cancer, EU Health, Health, Healthcare Policy

‘Let’s strive to reduce inequalities in access to medicines’

Submitted by on 14 Jul 2017 – 10:50

Increasing patient literacy and reducing inequalities in access to drugs and treatment mechanisms is crucial in fighting breast cancer in Europe. Karin Kadenbach MEP, co-chair of the European Parliament Interest Group on Access to Healthcare and Member of MEPs Intergroup against Cancer (MAC), explains why

Though mortality rates have significantly decreased over the years, breast cancer is still the leading cause of death from cancer among women. The reason for this and the pathophysiology of breast cancer is still not entirely understood by clinicians as well as scientists. As a co-chair of the European Parliament’s Interest Group on Access to Healthcare and as a member of MEPs Intergroup against Cancer (MAC), I attach particular importance to health literacy.

In my opinion, we should provide standardised care, up to date scientific knowledge and data at the European level. Informed patients as well as informed health care professionals are not only fundamental in optimising diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, but also crucial in saving costs for the health care system.

We also need to take into consideration that uninformed patients can often lead to problems such as medication errors, misdiagnosis due to poor communication between providers and patients, low rates of treatment adherence, hospital readmissions, and other related complications or conditions.

It is therefore important to ensure easy public access to data on all clinical trials carried out for new and existing medicines.

With the patient becoming an active subject in the healthcare system, we should engage and empower them, rather than leaving them uninformed.

In conclusion, putting health literacy at the core is essential. The European Parliament has raised the issue and called for action on several occasions. Health literacy was integrated in the European Commission health strategy for Health 2007–2013.

Various factors influence the availability for drugs against breast cancer, such as the selection of medicines on the market, focus areas of pharmaceutical research, supply systems, financing mechanisms, pricing, reimbursement and cost-containment policies of individual countries, as well as rigid patenting rules.

All these factors should be properly analysed with the aim of finding ways of overcoming obstacles and reducing inequalities in access to medicines and treatments for patients with breast cancer.

This is a priority for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament.