a Real Need For Medicine And Oncology

By Vicente Guillem, President of the ECO Foundation and Head of the Oncology Department of the Valencian Institute of Oncology

Last July the Congress of Deputies published the Opinion of the Commission for the Social and Economic Reconstruction of Spain, which in its article 47.2 determined that all those research and training activities that, directly or indirectly, are funded by industry, would be prohibited. However, we find ourselves in a context where 25 percent of the clinical research that has been developed in our country in the last ten years is academic (not commercial), and where the investment made by the SNS in Continuing Medical Training does not covers the minimum training needs of healthcare professionals.

From various medical organizations such as the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), the Federation of Scientific-Medical Associations of Spain (FACME) or the ECO Foundation, of which I am president, we vindicate the values ​​of transparency, independence and scientific rigor that govern our ethical codes and, therefore, the way in which we interact with the industry. In fact, these collaborations have allowed us to achieve great advances in research and technological development, which have led to a paradigmatic transformation of Oncology in recent years.

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We must not forget that cancer is a disease with a strong impact on the population and of which there is still much to discover. The dynamism of this area meant that, in 2009, the ECO Foundation assumed the mission of guaranteeing excellence in cancer care for cancer patients by combining the efforts of experts in this field. Since then, we have been developing extensive training, teaching, research and assistance in the field of Oncology, to address the latest advances that have occurred in the specialty. Activities that could not see the light if it is not thanks to the contribution of the pharmaceutical industry.

In recent years, the knowledge that has been provided on the pathophysiology of cancer has allowed us to individualize each treatment that a patient receives thanks to the biomarkers of response and evolution of the disease. We have also managed to develop new drugs, such as advanced therapies or personalized medicine, with mechanisms of action that impact a specific therapeutic target.

Regarding health technology, it has made it possible today to have effective diagnostic methods and new administration formulas that avoid considerable risks in patients. For this reason, thanks to Continuing Medical Training, we have managed to change the course of diseases, preventing or diagnosing them early.

If we were to dispense with these much-needed collaborations, we could seriously compromise the training that our healthcare professionals receive, something that would translate into a worsening of the quality of care provided to patients, as well as an involution for Medical Oncology in our country .

So that we can get an idea of ​​the magnitude of what independent (academic) research means in our country “more than 55,000 patients have been included in clinical trials, and more than 125,000 in other basic and translational research projects, epidemiological studies, pharmacoeconomic, observational, and tumor and patient registries ”. This has been indicated by SEOM in various communications.

At this point, it is essential to continue fighting so that investment in research and education of health professionals increases, since the insufficiency of public resources means that it continues to be a pending issue for professionals who dedicate ourselves to Medicine and, more specifically, to the field of Oncology. Salvador Illa, former Minister of Health, responded to the letter from the president of SEOM, Dr. Álvaro Rodríguez-Lescure, committing himself to carry out a process of active listening and the promotion of the participation of the different agents in the configuration of the conditions of private funding in continuing training, research and health education.

From the ECO Foundation, we will continue collaborating and working on the scientific dissemination of all those news that may arise in our specialty, as well as in the task of identifying those gaps that may exist in certain areas, with the aim of contributing to improve the experience from the patients.

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