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25 (120) 2016
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AstraZeneca Pharma Poland – a company with a British background

by Sylwia Jaczyńska-Kolasza, public affairs manager, AstraZeneca Pharma Poland
Header sylwia jaczy ska

 

AstraZeneca was formed in 1999 as the result of a merger between the Swedish firm Astra and the British firm Zeneca – which was a spin-off from the former chemical giant ICI.

Therefore the natural partners for AstraZeneca in Poland include the BPCC and the British Embassy. In October 2015 this partnership stepped up to a new level as the result of a conference entitled Personalised Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics as Pillars of Modern Oncology. This event, jointly organised by AstraZeneca, the British Embassy and the BPCC, created an opportunity to swap experiences, best practices and expert knowledge between the UK and Poland.

Personalised medicine in oncology

The significant increase in the incidence of cancer observed for many years and predicted to continue to grow in future decades is a serious challenge for health care systems around the  world.

Personalised medicine, with molecular diagnostics at its heart, creates a huge new opportunity for the early diagnosis and more effective treatment of cancer epidemics. As more is understood about the correlations between various biomarkers and different types of cancer, the main priority of many national plans for the fight against cancer includes effective implementation of molecular diagnostics and personalised medicine.

Personalised medicine in the UK

The British strategy for fight against cancer is called Improving Outcomes: a Strategy for Cancer. It includes such projects as The Cancer Research UK Stratified Medicine Programme in which 40,000 genetic tests for six types of cancer were performed; and the 100,000 Genomes Project,  which will analyse the genomic sequences of that number of patients with cancer and rare diseases.

To implement this project, Britain’s National Health Service has set up 11 genome research centres, forming a pillar of one of the largest cooperative project in this field anywhere in the world.

Thanks to these activities, patients qualifying for clinical tests can be offered therapy that’s tailor-made to their genetic profile. The main priority of the project is to implement new technologies. To do this, the UK has appointed the following activities:

  • Adapting methods used to assess the value of various medical technologies to personalised medicine

  • Defining and implementing strategies that allow for faster access to medication

  • Providing constant professional development for healthcare professionals

  • Recognising the crucial role of biobanks

  • Preparing mechanisms to fund therapy

Personalised medicine in Poland

Personalised medicine is not a new term in Poland. Experiences from recent years indicate that molecularly targeted therapies are slowly becoming available for patients in various therapeutic fields. However, access is still limited. This results from a lack of appropriate legal regulations as well as the presence of specific obstacles created by the Polish health care system. One of the many obstacles includes a lack of systemic solutions for molecular diagnostics. These concern the financing and the lack of systems for validation and quality control. Poland needs to implement a remedial plan to overcome these obstacles.  

Polish Coalition for Personalised Medicine

Collaboration between AstraZeneca, the BPCC and the British Embassy in the field of personalised medicine has led to their participation in the Polish Coalition for Personalised Medicine, which was formally established on 17 December 2015.

Its aim is to create the conditions that would favour the development of personalised medicine in Poland by supporting legislative and systemic changes in this field. The activity of the Polish Coalition for Personalised Medicine is inspired by the work of the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, and its co-chairman, Helmut Brand, has given his full support for the idea.

On 2 March 2016, at the First International Conference on Personalised Medicine, the Coalition provided Poland’s health ministry with a list of priority activities that need to be undertaken immediately if personalised medicine is to be implemented in a faster and more accurate way. These include:

  • Improving access, quality standards and to provide funding for molecular diagnostics to all patients who need it.

  • Introducing legislative changes that take into account specificities of personalised therapies, with regard to assessments whether they should be funded by public funds (characteristics of a given condition, threshold of cost effectiveness).

  • Supporting solutions that accelerate implementation of the therapeutic process, improve its coordination and effect monitoring.

  • Providing the safe collection of, storage, and access to patients’ genetic information.

  • Educating health care professionals and patients about the solutions offered by personalised medicine.

Currently, the British Embassy, the BPCC and AstraZeneca Polska are working on another common project in the healthcare sector.

“Declaration on Personalised Healthcare by Polish Alliance for Personalised Medicine (PAPM) handed to the deputy Minister of Health, dr. Jarosław Pinkas during First International Conference on Personalised Medicine, Warsaw March 2, 2016.”

First row in the center, dr Jaroslaw Pinkas, deputy Minister of Health, on right prof. Maria Sasiadek, National Consultant in Clinical Genetics and prof. Jacek Fijuth, President of Polish Oncology Association and PAPM member. On left dr. Wojciech Matusewicz, President of Polish Agency for HTA and dr. Mariusz Gujski, President Healthcare Institute Foundation. Second row from right dr. Stanimir Hasurdjiev, Chairman of Bulgarian National Patient Association, prof. Adam Fronczak, Warsaw Medical University, dr. Andrzej Jacyna, President of National Health Fund, prof. Krzysztof Warzocha, former Director Oncology Institute.

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