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EPIForum 2015 in a nutshell

This year’s edition of the event took place in Berlin and has been a truly international discussion forum for everybody interested in the real-world data (http://2015-epiforum.eventify.it/). As always, a relatively small number of attendees in comparison to major congresses gave a unique opportunity for a more robust, lively and insightful ‘peer-to-peer‘ discussions between speakers, participants and scientific board members. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the features of each Epiforum’s edition. It is easier to interact, easier to exchange ideas and these are the hallmarks of any good event!

Duane Schulthess, Director of Vital Transformation gave a brilliant kick-off to the conference, providing a comprehensive overview of RWD. His speech circulated around the use of databases and opportunities that stem from it.

Shreya Dave showed quite a practical side of observational data and their use in drug development. As a Director of Pharmacoepidemiology at Takeda she focused specifically on the latter part of the life-cycle – pharmacovigilance and drug safety.

Melanie Calvert took a different angle and tackled patient centricity in the context of real-world data generation. She gave an interesting talk about why patient reported outcomes must become a crucial element of drug development and discussed the current, unfortunately sub-optimal trend to implement them into that process.

Further, our keynote speaker, the President of EuroRec Institute, Dr. Dipak Kalra, dazzled with his views of RWD in the future, 2020 and 2050. Using examples of current RWD-based projects, EHR4RC and EMIF he showed how much more can be done, provided we solve the issues of data privacy, quality and interoperability. Highlight of the speech was a dialog between Dr. Kalra (as future patient) and the computer (as the future caregiver) about the custom-tailored, personal evidence-based switch in his individual hypocholesterolemic regimen. Way to go in the future of sustainable healthcare!    

Diederick E.Grobbee shared some of his views on Real World Evidence in late phase drug development, notably touching upon pragmatic clinical trials, adaptive pathways creating a nice warm-up before the following presentation on Medicines Adaptive Pathways to Patients (MAPPs) delivered by Luk Maes, who spoke on behalf of EFPIA. Later on, the floor was taked by Detlew Parow, who focused mainly on the German perspective on Real-World Data and challenges in harnessing their power.

Towards the end of the day, ironically, perspective changed from late-phase into early discovery. Hugo Ceulemans (Janssen) spoke about how RWD can boost drug discovery. His speech was seconded by Alex Thomson (UCB’s Strategic Epidemiology), who made us see, that epidemiological methods support the quantification of unmet needs, ensure an appropriate evidence development plan and increase confidence in the pathophysiological relevance of the target of drugs in the pipeline. From his talk we know epidemiology can be a life- (and money-) savior, by enabling us to ‘fail quickly, learn fast’, choosing these drugs that have highest chances of success!

Plethora of food for thoughts, indeed, and a lot to process before the 2016’s edition in Amsterdam!

Personally, I can’t wait!

F.R.