National Cancer Day is being held on the 10th of April this year for the 30th time. It is intended every year to raise awareness of cancer, its prevention, and early detection. One in every four Hungarians is affected by some type of cancer during their lifetimes, and this disease claims the lives of nearly 33,000 patients every year, the equivalent of a small town’s population. Patients’ chances for recovery could be significantly improved if the more than 70 new medicinal products awaiting a final decision by the government, including dozens of advanced oncological therapies, became available to Hungarian patients and are included within the framework of the social security subsidy program as soon as possible.
Although the number of cancer cases is increasing worldwide, so is the efficiency of therapies and diagnostic methods. Due to this, the trend of continuous improvement in the chance of survival indicates that there is reason to expect even greater hope for the future. Sadly, Hungary has the highest number of diagnosed cancer cases in the European Union. According to data from 2018, this number was as high as 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and 350 of every 100,000 Hungarians died of cancer. Cancer therapies have improved considerably in the last 50 years, and due to this improvement, the average 10-year patient survival rate has doubled from 24 percent in the 1970s to nearly 50 percent in recent years. Furthermore, this development continues currently with more than 1,800 promising new targeted medicinal products, including over 200 immuno-oncological therapies, that are being developed, and more than 1,200 targeted clinical trials that were initiated in 2020 alone.
Dr. Péter Holchacker, director of the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Manufacturers – which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – highlights that AIPM has been working for three decades to ensure that the Hungarian population has broad access to the latest medical solutions based on modern discoveries. It is clear from the experience from the recent decades that the chances for recovery of Hungarian patients could also be significantly improved by increasing the participation rate in screening tests, where progress has been made due to measures aimed at prevention and increasing participation in public health screening, as well as by ensuring quick and broad access to modern therapies. Currently there are more than 70 new therapies awaiting the government’s final decision on inclusion, and nearly half of these therapies are related to some type of cancer. If these were also included in the range of therapies subsidised by social security, thousands of Hungarians would have access to the latest oncology medicines and the additional chances to recover and live a longer and healthier life provided by them.