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  • ‘Thanks’ for progress on lung cancer, but more is needed

    Tomorrow (the fourth Thursday in November, 26 November) is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States as citizens show their appreciation for a good harvest and for having food on the table.

    But it seems that the very first Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on 21 February 1621 (rather than in the autumn, as it is today) when a group of starving pilgrims were saved at the last minute by the arrival of a ship – The Lyon – which had sailed from Ireland loaded with food.

  • Health security is as vital as havens from terrorism

    Everyone wants to feel secure, and the Brussels ‘lockdown’ over the weekend and the past few days has thrown that into sharp relief.  Closed schools, closed metros, closed shops and almost-empty bars have been in stark contrast a heavy army and police presence alongside more news crews than tourists in the city’s Grand’Place. 

    But security amidst the very real threat of terrorism isn’t the only arena in which it saves lives – health security is also vital in a Europe of 500 million potential patients across 28 member states. The European Commission’s Health Security Committee (HSC), which collects data on threats and risks from EU agencies, lists among its priority issues ‘detection and communication’, stating that ‘preparedness requires timely detection and rapid distribution of information to relevant stakeholders’.

  • Focus group tackles better outcomes for EU cancer patients

    The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) has published a series of articles in an international online health magazine as part of the work of its EU Consensus Group on Clinical Trials.

    The articles have appeared in a special edition of Public Health Genomics under the title Getting Personal: The Future of Medicine and Clinical Trials.

  • Why all vital medical data cannot be anonymous

    Talks are hotting up in Europe over data protection and the use of personal information in medical research. And, despite MEP Jan Philipp Albrechts recent assertion that the European Parliaments position on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – currently being discussed under the Trilogue of the Parliament, European Council and Commission – allows more breadth for research, multi-stakeholder groups remain concerned.

    One of these, the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM), is of the view that, in certain areas, the Parliaments position is not the correct one.

  • Data protection talks must make special case for research

    The Data Protection negotiations are currently in full swing within the ‘trilogue’ of the European Council, Commission and Parliament. The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) and many other stakeholders are concerned that the proposed Data Protection Regulation may go too far, be too cautious and thus block the carrying-out and sharing of vital medical research.

    This would have a huge, negative knock-on effect on the well-being of the EU’s millions of citizens. We are in dangerous territory for the future of health. It is clear that patients believe it is vitally important to share their data for research. And there are already solid and effective safeguards in place to protect the public in these circumstances, including the obligation to submit usage to ethics committees.

  • Europe must guard against knee-jerk reaction on health data, post-ECJ ruling

    The ongoing debate on Big Data and data protection will surely take another turn after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down the Commission’s ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement on data exchanges with the US. 

    In its ruling, the ECJ blasted the US government for “compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life”.

  • Trialogue talks must strike balance between data protection and vital health research

    The debate about the use of Big Data in research is hotting up, and it is clear that the strict lines of personal versus anonymous data will need to be reworked somehow. Due to the explosion in data capture, storage and sharing, the European Commission put forward a new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR back in 2012. The European Parliament then put forward a varied version in May 2014. The latter text takes the view that processing personal data will require informed consent. But this does not take into account the age of the data (how can you get consent from somebody who has passed away?) the use of the data, nor whether or not privacy-enhancing technology is used – partly anonymized, as it were.

  • Cancer congress reveals progress but highlights gaps in care

    The annual European Cancer Congress (ECC) held recently in Vienna was, as ever, a busy and successful event attended by stakeholders from all over the world. The congress was jointly hosted by ECCO and ESMO and is the biggest of its type in Europe.

    Over the course of the event, the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) held a workshop, several meetings and a swathe of high-level interviews, with a view to ‘taking stock’ in an environment that has seen personalised medicine make great strides in the area of oncology. The Alliance’s top-level workshop discussed how Europe should respond to challenges concerning optimizing research to better address the objectives of different stakeholders with competing interests, to make the most of finite opportunities to address important clinical questions in research, and to increase multi-stakeholder collaborations, especially cross-border co-operations.

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