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10/11 October 2013 – Health First Europe attended the annual European MedTech Forum which focused on the implications of new regulatory proposals for patients, clinicians and industry. Bringing together a variety of stakeholders, the event highlighted the need for long-term thinking to ensure the continuation of rapid innovative solutions for patients in Europe.

The two-day event began with an informal discussion amongst leaders of Eucomed, the European Diagnostics Manufacturers Association (EDMA) and MedTech Europe. The exchange mainly focused on the current regulatory proposals for medical devices, with leaders of the organisations explaining how various aspects of the proposals are problematic because they believe it will hinder the ability of the industry to innovate.

Paola Testorri Coggi, Directorate General for Health and Consumers, followed the exchange of leaders with a video message and declared that the balance between safety and swift access to market of new technologies is a difficult balance which the European Commission believes it has achieved.  She expressed, “We all have a collective responsibility to ensure the sustainability of health systems” and suggested that we “cannot ignore” the recent events which have “compromised the trust of patients in medical technologies.”  She also reiterated the call from patients for additional transparency of clinical information on medical technologies so that trust with patients can be built and maintained.

“It’s not just about safety, but also the need for medical technologies to provide a real benefit to patients and demonstrate efficiency” said Wolfgang Ecker from the Austrian Ministry of Health.  Lutz Heinemann from the Profil Institute for Clinical Research agreed, and called for more information on the clinical benefit of a technology for a patient.  He said that clinicians want to know, “What is the benefit of a medical device in clinical reality?”

In a seminar dedicated to developments on health technology assessment, Jerome Boehm, Team Leader and Policy Coordinator at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers, discussed the upcoming launch of the permanent network for HTA collaboration in Europe. He explained that the network will provide “a strategic vision for cooperation” in order that Member States can use HTA for evidence-based decision-making.  Finn Borlum Kirstensen, Director of the EUnetHTA Secretariat, highlighted the need for all stakeholders to participate in HTA in order to strengthen the practical application of HTA in Europe.

Bringing the patients’ view to the discussion, Dr. Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum, and Joao Manuel Valente Nabis, President-Elect of the International Diabetes Federation Europe, gave their perspectives on the meaning of patient-centricity in healthcare. Dr. Banks advised that if “you put the patient first, the profits will follow” and called for a “true partnership” and greater communication with patients which will benefit all health stakeholders.

The conference concluded with the keynote of EU Commissioner for Consumer Policy, Neven Mimica, who emphasised the contribution of medical technologies to healthcare systems. He stressed the changing landscape of healthcare and suggested that systems will need to adapt to the patient and provide more integrated care. He reiterated the need to protect the safety of patients in health systems without compromising innovation or access and declared that he believed a regulatory framework will be established for medical devices that achieves benefits for all health stakeholders.

For more information on HFE’s position on HTA, click here.

For more information on HFE’s statement on the proposed medical devices regulation, click here.

For more information on HFE’s recommendations for patient safety, click here.