An important measure of success of a new drug is markets access delay that measures the length of the time a new medicine is accessible to patients after the R&D process has been completed. In my thesis I found out that the mean market access delay of oral cancer drugs in Finland is 2,36 years and it is becoming even longer with new drugs. Cancer patients and the patient organization regard this to be excessively too long. To many patients, every day is precious.
Patients and patient organization see that money should not be a barrier to the access for drugs that will help them to better fight cancer. However, the cost of new oral cancer medicines tends to be high. Therefore, reimbursement plays a significant part of the market access in making new oral cancer drugs accessible to all patients regardless of a patient’s economic status.
There is a pressing need to improve the process of authorizing and approving new drugs by European Medicines Agency EMA and Pharmaceutical Pricing Board PPB.
At the moment, patients feel that their voices are not heard when making decision concerning the reimbursement status of new drugs. From the patients’ perspective, they themselves are the ones having to experiences the biggest loss in the long market access delays. As noted by a representative of a patient organization, for a patient, it is an absurd situation when it is known that there is a drug that is crucial for the survival of the patient but the patient can’t get the medicine because it is not reimbursed. Due to the delay, the patient passes away.
For giving patients an equal opportunity to access new oral cancer medicines, it is highly important that new oral cancer medicines are included in the Finnish drug reimbursement system in a timely manner. However, identifying the crucial new medicines that should be quickly accessible, is difficult.
A solution may come with the upcoming Comprehensive Cancer Center Finland whose planned role would be to give clinical guidelines and give statements concerning new treatments. Also, starting this year Finland has implemented a risk sharing scheme called conditional reimbursement for allowing a faster access to new innovative drugs. These are very welcomed reforms that will hopefully improve the fast accessibility of new oral cancer therapies. Further research is needed to support shortening the market access of new drugs.
Title of Master’s thesis
Market access of oral cancer drugs in Finland: A patient and patient organization view
Thesis supervisor: Professor Hanna Lehtimäki