European cooperation in the fight against cancer indispensable / Remove hurdles for researchers / Cancer risk from alcohol recognised

The European Parliament yesterday voted on the final report of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer with huge majority (652-15-27)
"We want to make life easier for all those fighting cancer, especially patients and researchers," said MEP and health policy spokesperson of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP-Christian Democrats) Peter Liese. "Cross-border research is essential to fight cancer. This applies to all types of cancers, but particularly the rare ones as well as paediatric cancer." Liese explained that it is only through European cooperation that sufficient patients can be gathered quickly enough, for example for clinical trials, in order to introduce innovation in the market in a timely manner. Researchers, however, suffer from excessive bureaucracy and different regulations in the Member States. "Change is needed urgently" says Liese. "We need a uniform implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation and a structure in the European Commission to which researchers can turn when they encounter obstacles, in order to then jointly remove them. Both points are included in the text of the Special Committee adopted by plenary. We want to facilitate cross-border research, rolling out the red carpet for researchers, rather than putting obstacles in their way" says Liese. In addition, MEPs call for tailor-made incentives to promote the development of medical drugs treating paediatric cancer as well as incentives to facilitate access to cross-border clinical trials," says Liese, who himself worked as a doctor in a paediatric clinic.  

MEPs want to make life easier for patients, starting with treatments abroad being reimbursed more easily. "It can be vital to consult an expert abroad, for example if there is no specialist for a rare type of cancer in your own country. Treatment abroad can also make a lot of sense for very personal reasons, if, for example, the patient’s close relatives live abroad. After all, it is very human to want to be near ones relatives during chemotherapy or surgery. Yet, patients face many bureaucratic hurdles, even though the European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of the right to treatment abroad. We want an amendment to the Directive on Patients' Rights to make life easier for people. Cancer patients don't have time for long legal battles."  
The text also addresses the question of how to deal with cancer survivors. "Many people who have had cancer, for example as a child or young adult, are still discriminated against even decades later, given that access to insurance or credit may be more difficult to secure. This has to change, also through concrete legislation, e.g. in the framework of the European Insurance Distribution Directive".
The issue of "alcohol and cancer" was discussed controversially. A large majority of the European Parliament recognises that alcohol causes cancer and that the risk is lowest if one does not drink at all. Attempts to remove corresponding references to the WHO and international studies failed. However, a majority of MEPs agreed to remove a total ban on alcohol sponsorship at events from the text. Sponsorship, like advertising, should now only be banned at events primarily involving children and youth. A call for a warning label on alcohol bottles was replaced by a call for information on moderate and responsible alcohol consumption. "The last point I find unfortunate. We should not ask people who do not drink to start drinking. Unfortunately, the text is not very clear here. Excessive drinking is, of course, our biggest problem, but the statement that moderate alcohol consumption promotes health, which I used to happily pronounce, has unfortunately become outdated. I do not want to spoil anyone's glass of beer or wine, but when I drink, I do it because it tastes good and gives me pleasure, not because I tell myself it is healthy, because unfortunately it is not. I am very happy about the change in sponsorship. The European Union should not regulate whether a small sports club is supported by the local brewery. What is important to me, however, is that scientific facts remained in the report. The statement of the French Minister of Agriculture on Monday evening in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, that he would have preferred not to see the reference to the WHO, I find unbelievable. I am glad that the Parliament followed the line of Véronique Trillet-Lenoir and not the one of her party fellow Minister Julien Denormandie. Overall, it is important that this report was adopted with a huge majority, the controversy over alcohol should not obscure the essential points," said Liese.