This position paper is intended to map out where the Nuclear Medecine Europe industry association sees the current pain points in the supply of theranostic products and specialized equipment for diagnosing and treating cancer patients. It contains the combined views of the 45 members of the association on how we see the need for support from both EU and local politicians to ensure a stable and secure treatment of patients in the member states.
Adequate funding and reimbursement of the diagnosis and treatment with radioisotopes will be key to better outcomes for cancer patients and thus increase quality survival rates.
But, to quote MEP Bartosz Arłukowicz BECA committee president at the recent European Observatory meeting, “…above all equal access to high-quality cancer care in all EU member states with Nuclear Medicine playing a vital role”.
Nuclear medicine has a huge potential to diagnose and treat patients. However, many issues must be addressed if it is to fulfil its promise in Europe and elsewhere. This paper lists the major obstacles for the nuclear medicine industry and offers a framework for action that the Nuclear Medicine Europe (NMEU) trade association sees as essential to keep building the sector.
What are the four main challenges facing Europe’s nuclear medicine sector?
Secure and reliable supply for current and future radioisotopes for both therapy and diagnosis, grounded in resilient European infrastructures.
Regulation that adapts to the specificities of radiopharmaceuticals for marketing authorisations, product registration, preparation, transport/delivery and radioprotection.
Support for innovation and technical development across the EU, through training and certification of healthcare professionals and equipment so all EU citizens can access the full benefits of nuclear medicine with equal opportunity.
Raising awareness and understanding of nuclear medicine’s benefits with healthcare professionals, patients and the general public.
Regulation that recognises radiopharmaceutical needs
Radiopharmaceuticals need safety guidelines. However, the regulatory guidance and policies also need to recognise the unique properties of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
They also need to support the development of novel radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and targeted treatments.
NMEU proposed actions
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and EU Member State health regulatory authorities should strengthen links with the nuclear medicine community, such as the medical professional societies (EANM), and the radiopharmaceutical industry to develop a better understanding of the difficulties and peculiarities of the sector.
Nuclear medicine is often ignored in EU health policies because of its low visibility compared with other medical disciplines.
Raise awareness about nuclear medicine
NMEU position and proposed actions
We need to raise awareness of nuclear medicine among EU and Member States policy decision-makers. EU institutions should consider:
- Public-private partnership education projects, using some of the funding in the Beating Cancer Plan and the SAMIRA Action Plan.
- International and cross-sectoral education in nuclear medicine to address the knowledge gap around diagnostic and therapeutic applications among healthcare professionals and to facilitate patient access to radiopharmaceuticals.
- Educational projects such as Erasmus+ and financing of key research projects for radiopharmaceuticals and technological developments.
- Involving the OECD Cancer inequalities Register, as suggested in the EU4Health Work Programme 2021.
- Strengthening engagement with the European Parliament, which already led to three vital amendments to a February 2022 Resolution related to the supply of radioisotopes in Europe.