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Follow-up: Webinar on drug repurposing for cancer in the COVID-19 era

Follow-up: Webinar on drug repurposing for cancer in the COVID-19 era

Brussels - The Anticancer Fund brought eminent speakers to point out the importance of repurposing existing drugs to fight cancer during the webinar “Drug repurposing for cancer in the COVID-19 era – An opportunity for transformational change?”, on Thursday 25 June.

The webinar raised awareness of the untapped potential of repurposed drugs in the treatment of cancer against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar is still available on our YouTube channel:

EU policy makers, researchers, physicians and patients discussed whether the current crisis is driving us towards a paradigm shift in the way cancer treatments are researched, developed and delivered.

"As delivering affordable and accessible medicines will be more important than ever, drug repurposing presents an opportunity for transformational change", introduced Tilly Metz, Member of the European Parliament.

The European institutions are working on a Cancer Mission and Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. As both projects emphasize that patients should get the best treatments, the Anticancer Fund underlined the importance of non-commercial research and independant clinical trials to select the best treatments.

"If we really want to bring the best treatment to the patient, we need for-profit drug development for new drugs, but we also need a complementary strategy, supported by public money for the development of affordable treatments that are beneficial for patients", said Lydie Meheus from the Anticancer Fund. "We need non-profit development for repurposing and treatment optimisation, in addition to traditional drug development."

Hans-Georg Eichler from the European Medecines Agency agreed: "We need some sort of rewards or new incentives for those new uses of existing drugs."

Experts from all over the world of research and regulation listened to the views of the panelists. We counted more than 100 participants.

While the COVID-19 outbreak has brought to light the tremendous potential of repurposed drugs to help tackle immediate global health threats in a rapid and cost-efficient way, it has also exposed the pitfalls of off-label use and inadequate evidence. In cancer treatment, repurposed drugs have shown promise in terms of costs, time efficiency and effectiveness but there are still significant scientific, financial and regulatory hurdles to their development in Europe.


The programme

16:00 Opening & welcome remarks

  • Peter O'Donnell (moderator)
  • Member of the European Parliament Tilly Metz

16:10 From COVID-19 to cancer: Why do we need to talk about drug repurposing? by Lydie Meheus, Anticancer Fund, Belgium

16:20 Message from the European Commission & the European Medicines Agency

  • Hans-Georg Eichler, European Medicines Agency, The Netherlands
  • Jan-Willem Van de Loo, DG RTD, European Commission, Belgium

16:45 Panel discussion: Forward-thinking solutions and policy responses to incentivise clinical research and bring repurposed drugs into oncology practice

  • Nicolas André, Hôpital pour Enfants de la Timone, AP-HM, France
  • Delphine Heenen, KickCancer, Belgium
  • Bishal Gyawali, Department of Public Health Sciences & Department of Oncology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
  • Matthew Hall, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, United States

17:25 Questions & Answers with participants

17:40 Closing by Peter O'Donnell (moderator)


For the biographies of the speakers, please click here.

The webinar is still available on our YouTube channel:

If you would like to receive the presentations in PDF, please contact us.

To discover more about our policy work and about how we connect with decision-makers, read here.

To find out more about drug repurposing, have a look here.