Differences in time to patient access to innovative cancer medicines in six European countries.


Patients across Europe face inequity regarding access to anticancer medicines. While access is typically evaluated through reimbursement status or sales data, patients can receive first access through early access programs (EAPs) or off-label use. This study aims to assess the time to patient access at the hospital level, considering different indications and countries. (Pre-)registered access to six innovative medicines (Olaparib, Niraparib, Ipilimumab, Osimeritinib, Nivolumab and Ibritunib) was measured using a cross-sectional survey. First patient access to medicines and indications were collected using the hospital databases. Nineteen hospitals from Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and France participated. Analysis showed that some hospitals achieved patient access before national reimbursement, primarily through EAPs. The average time from EMA-approval to patient access for these medicines was 2.1 years (Range: -0.9-7.1 years). Hospitals in Italy and France had faster access compared to Hungary and Belgium. Variation was also found within countries, with specialized hospitals (x̄: -0.9 years; SD: 2.0) more likely to provide patient access prior to national reimbursement than general hospitals (x̄: 0.4 years; SD: 2.9). Contextual differences were observed, with EAPs or off-label use being more prevalent in Switzerland than Hungary. Recent EMA-approved indications and drug combinations reached patients at a later stage. Substantial variation in patient access time was observed between and within countries. Improving pricing and reimbursement timelines, fostering collaboration between national health authorities and market authorization holders, and implementing nationally harmonized, data-generating EAPs can enhance timely and equitable patient access to innovative cancer treatments in Europe.

More about this publication

International journal of cancer
  • Volume 154
  • Issue nr. 5
  • Pages 886-894
  • Publication date 01-03-2024

This site uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.