Keeping up the Drive for Discoveries

Last year saw many steps forward in the determination to make life better for people around the world. We watched closely the ongoing EU public health policy developments to improve care for patients across Europe. Here is a reflection of just a handful of 2013's highlights. As you read through, have a think about what your own list would include.

Spotlight on Alzheimer's disease

Worldwide, 35.6 million people have dementia and there are 7.7 million new cases every year (WHO). With the number of people living with dementia worldwide set to treble by 2050, we sent an open letter ahead of the G8 dementia summit here. This summit was a landmark event in a year that marked ten years in the running of World Alzheimer's Day. To generate and maintain more momentum beyond the actual day, 2013 also marked the second World Alzheimer's Month which takes place in September (see our blog). To top it off, 2013 also marked the 25th year of Lilly's research and development in Alzheimer's disease so all in, a landmark year for tackling Alzheimer's disease.

Empowering people living with diabetes

Whilst many researchers, health care professionals, patients and indeed colleagues here at Lilly focus on diabetes every day, Thursday 14 November marked a special day for the disease. Worldwide, more than 371 million people have Diabetes and this year's Word Diabetes Day focused on empowering people living with diabetes through education, and prevention of diabetes. Here at Lilly, we have been committed to diabetes for over 90 years, and this year we celebrated the anniversary of insulin availability.

The fight against cancer

Cancer research has made tremendous strides in the last 20 years, but we must keep up the pace for more innovative treatment for patients. Each year, millions of people lose their lives to cancer, and increasing numbers of us are falling ill from the disease every day. This trend is set to continue: currently some 8 million people will die of cancer each year, and that figure could rise to 13.1 million by 2030. In advance of World Cancer Day on February 4th, PACE (Patient Access to Cancer care Excellence), an initiative kick-started by Lilly in collaboration with other stakeholders, published the PACE Cancer Perception Index. This highlighted that while nearly 60% of respondents are satisfied with the progress made in fighting cancer in the last 20 years, most respondents are concerned that the current economic climate will hinder cancer research. The results also showed misperceptions persist regarding the clinical trials process. See our next 2013 highlight for more on clinical trials.

Clinical trials

The subject of clinical trials has been a focus of discussion for much of 2013. Updating Europe's clinical trial rules continues to be a key priority for the European institutions. All stakeholders - us included - are supporting the institutions to produce a new set of rules that will instill a faster, more flexible and harmonised process for setting up and running clinical trials across EU countries, whilst ensuring patient safety. Linked to this has been the hotly discussed topic of clinical trial data transparency. Earlier this year, our colleague Sue Forda, VP Global Regulatory Affairs International, had the opportunity to reaffirm industry commitments on clinical trial data transparency and relay what Lilly is doing as a company on this important topic at the European Forum for Good Clinical Practice (EFGCP) multi-stakeholder roundtable. We have long been champions of transparency - to find out more, take a look at our desk keeper: 'desk keeper' information guide on the subject to aid discussions and provide additional education on clinical trials generally.

Tackling the EU healthcare lottery

2013 saw a major milestone in reforming the way 'value' of new medicines is assessed at a national level against medical, social, ethical, and economic benefits. Different outcomes of clinical appraisals by Member States can result in a location lottery for citizens of Europe for approved healthcare. Differences come about because of the current variability in quality and methods used for evidence assessment. The first meeting of the EU 'HTA Network' of national authorities and bodies responsible for health technology assessment (HTA) took place in October last year. This collaboration promises to save healthcare expenditure through enabling the sharing of information and workload and by the establishment of common clinical guidelines for assessment. Reducing extensive duplication of assessment, where currently each individual Member State conducts its own HTA review of essentially the same evidence, could also be fairer for patients. Lilly continues to offer its expertise and advice, working with the European Commission, EUnetHTA and other pharmaceutical companies to ensure that Member States use HTA appropriately so as to service their patients' best interests and to appropriately reward new discoveries in healthcare.

Boosting economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic

Negotiations for the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement present a unique economic opportunity to strengthen the languishing global economy. Negotiations kicked off back in February, and address a broad range of bilateral trade and investment policies, as well as global issues of common interest. Discussions with EU trade ministers, the European Commission & US government have since been taking place. Lilly welcomes the decision to launch TTIP negotiations, as TTIP should set ambitious standards for pharmaceuticals, helping to ensure rapid access for patients to innovative new medicines; support the European pharmaceutical industry, and set a benchmark for future trade agreements. See more about the agreement and the unique opportunities it represents here.