Strategic Business Plan provides direction

The end of the implementation period of the Strategic Business Plan 2014-2018 is approaching. The MEB is increasingly connected with the actual practice in which medicines are used. This goes hand in hand with a strengthening of the collaboration with other governmental institutions such as the Dutch National Healthcare Institute (ZIN) and the Central Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects (CCMO).

Information about medicines for patients and prescribers

A study carried out by the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) showed that patients have a need for simple and accessible information about medicines. Based partly on the results of this study, the MEB started many activities to improve the information provision to patients.

The MEB has drafted a proposal, together with a number of (government) partners, to simplify the patient's search for reliable information on the internet. The objective is to collect independent and reliable information and make it accessible in one central location.

The study shows that patients regard the patient information leaflet as the reliable source of information about medicines. It also became clear that the text of the patient information leaflet needs to be shorter and simpler. Therefore, the MEB set up a project team in 2017 to work on improving the comprehensibility of the patient information leaflet. In addition, alternative ways of communicating information are being examined, such as audio-visual and graphic information.

The information about medicines for prescribers is becoming increasingly streamlined due to the collaboration between the MEB, Lareb, ZIN, the Dutch Institute for Responsible Medicine Use (IVM) and the Medicine Bulletin. A pilot project was carried out in 2017 in which important new information was sent by email to a number of doctors and pharmacists. A follow-up pilot project will take place in 2018.

A project team was started in 2017 to improve the accessibility of product information (the scientific and patient information leaflet) in the Medicine Information Database. Several parties make use of the Medicine Information Database to update their own databases, such as the Pharmacotherapeutic Compass and the KNMP Knowledge Database. The project team is examining the wishes of these parties. The ambition is to ultimately publish completely digital structured product information. The product information must be easy to navigate, searchable and reusable.

Involving the practice in assessments

Involving patient organisations is part of the primary assessment work of the MEB. An internal core group of patients, consumers and professional organisations was established in 2017. The objective of the core group is to stimulate and advise colleagues on involving patient organisations and professional organisations, for example, in the assessments and in drawing up guidelines. The role of patient organisations in scientific advice is still being examined.

Another important part of the use of information from the actual practice is the use of user data in assessments. We are working together with Santeon, NIVEL and the Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation (IKNL) to make use of their registries. The MEB values these collaborations highly and is aware of the importance of registries. The MEB actively contributes to initiatives of the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the EMA in this field and performs scientific research into registries. The MEB is also strengthening the scientific basis of practice-oriented assessments for personalised medicine and stakeholder-driven applications.

New medicines quickly available for patients

An important theme for the MEB is to ensure that new medicines are made available to patients efficiently and responsibly. The collaboration with ZIN was intensified in 2017 and more information is being shared about current procedures. With this, the vision on medicine of the Minister of VWS is being put into practice. Employees of the MEB and ZIN are examining certain dossiers together in order to achieve more synergy. The aim is to shorten the total processing time before the medicine becomes available to patients. In addition, tailored scientific advice is provided more and more often to the developers of medicines together with ZIN and/or CCMO. In line with this, the MEB continues its activities on a European level around the theme ‘Innovation and access to new medicines’, one of the priorities of the Multi-Annual Working Plan (MAWP) of the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA).