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Lung Cancer Study Shows Barriers in Patient Access to Care in Europe

·7 mins read

Preliminary data from The Economist Intelligence Unit Study on lung cancer policies is presented at the European Cancer Forum, after conclusion of second phase of research, covering 27 European countries.

MSD, tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE: MRK), today presents preliminary results from a study carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) on lung cancer, which show a fragmented policy approach across Europe. The study underlines that awareness needs to be addressed on multiple fronts to fight the stigma associated with this disease and to ensure patients receive timely access to the best possible care. The data were presented days before the European Commission’s official launch of the stakeholders’ consultation on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

"There is no room for complacency in lung cancer; 1 out of 5 of all cancer deaths in Europe is caused by lung cancer and it kills as many Europeans as breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. The study uncovers actionable solutions to empower countries and their health systems to better manage lung cancer, and ultimately, improve the lives of people living with a diagnosis of this treatable disease," commented Mary Bussell, Associate at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The study shows that of the 27 countries participating, 15% (4 countries) do not have a National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP). 14 countries with existing NCCPs have not updated them within the past five years, and only one has a lung cancer-specific control plan.

National Lung Cancer Clinical Guidelines (NLCCGs) should include timeframes for fast-tracking people suspected of having lung cancer for diagnostic testing and provide a rapid referral for secondary or tertiary treatment for those diagnosed with lung cancer. Although 26 of the 27 countries covered in the study have national clinical guidelines for lung cancer, discrepancies remain:

  • 11 countries do not include fast-tracking of suspected lung cancer patients to receive diagnostic testing;

  • 12 do not include a timeframe within which diagnostic testing should be given to suspected lung cancer patients;

  • 15 do not include rapid referral to secondary or tertiary care, once a diagnosis of lung cancer has been made; and

  • 3 countries do not include fast-tracking for diagnosis within timeframes or rapid referral to secondary or tertiary care in their lung cancer clinical guidelines. However, they are included in government policies, national agreements, or are mandated by law.

"The presentation of this data is quite timely. While Europe has agreed on the need for a European Cancer Plan, the study draws attention to specific issues around lung cancer and its burden. Clearly, prevention and health promotion have important roles to play. At the same time, we know that early detection and fast referral to treatment are crucial to improve patient outcomes - lung cancer is a race against time. The study shows that we have plenty of work to do there," said Deepak Khanna, Senior Vice President and Regional President Oncology for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Canada, MSD.

"The data presented helps us understand the specificities of lung cancer better. As we design a European Cancer Plan aiming at reducing the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems, and addressing cancer related inequalities, it is important to gather available information on best practices and knowledge from research and clinical experience, that can help us build a robust evidence base for better policy making", added Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General, DG SANTE, European Commission.

About the Study

The study analysed 17 performance indicators across 27 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The indicators were categorised into five domains focused on the degree to which a country considers lung cancer to be a strategic priority and a public health issue, ensures timely diagnostic and treatment services and the quality of cancer registries which can help to facilitate high-quality research. Each country received a score for all 17 indicators. Once draft scores were assigned to each country, national workshops were conducted with external country-based experts to discuss the findings and develop recommendations for policy and programme improvements. Preliminary results of the first phase of the study were presented at the 2018 European Cancer Forum in Brussels. An additional 16 countries are being analysed and the preliminary results of this second phase were presented at the 2020 European Cancer Forum in Brussels. The final report with a full analysis of the results is expected in Spring 2020. The Economist Intelligence Unit benchmarking study is supported by MSD. Editorial decisions are the responsibility of The Economist Intelligence Unit.

About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer, which forms in the tissues of the lungs, usually within cells lining the air passages, is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. According to WHO, in 2018 470,000 Europeans were diagnosed with lung cancer, and 388,000 Europeans died of the disease that year. The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell and small cell. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 85% of all cases. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for about 10 to 15% of all lung cancers.

About MSD

For more than a century, MSD, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for the world’s most challenging diseases. MSD is a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programmes and partnerships. Today, MSD continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world. For more information, visit www.MSD.com and connect with us on Twitter @MSDInvents.

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the "company") includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov).

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200127005714/en/


Emilia Häyrynen
+358 40 722 7703