Saudi Arabia has become the first Middle East country to launch a new initiative in the effective management of cancer treatment with the establishment of a ‘Saudi Oncology Health Economics Expert Group’ (SHARP). The Saudi Society of Clinical Pharmacy (SSCP) and AstraZeneca Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will oversee the introduction of the new group.
SHARP will create a database to evaluate cancer treatments, which in turn will inform clinical decisions to provide targeted expenditure on the most effective treatments for the disease. It will also provide a platform for cancer patients to share their thoughts and experiences of different treatments.
The SHARP initiative has been launched in line with the National Transformation Program which aims to improve health service quality and clinical efficiency. The agreement also embodies the partnership concept between the public and private sectors in the oncology field.
The introduction of SHARP by SSCP and AstraZeneca will see the establishment of a consultancy council with members composed of Saudi experts and decision makers from the public oncology sector. Cancer patients and survivors will also attend to share their treatment experiences. The outcome will be the introduction of a permanent set of recommendations around the process of cancer treatment decision-making in order to ensure expenditure is targeted to the most effective treatments.
The MoU between SSCP and AstraZeneca was signed in the presence of SSCP President Dr. Ahmed Al-Jedai and AstraZeneca’s GCC Regional President Dr. Ismael Shahadah.
SSCP President Dr. Ahmed Al-Jedai described the establishment of SHARP as an important step in the availability of effective platforms to manage cancer treatments, “Cancer is one of the main causes of death in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Health Council recorded 16,000 cases in 2018 and the Saudi Oncology Society estimated the average cost of treating a cancer patient was one million Saudi Riyals per year. SHARP will help reduce these costs.”
AstraZeneca’s GCC Regional President Dr. Ismael Shahadah said, “We welcome this partnership with SSCP to establish SHARP. As well as creating a database to assess the most effective treatments it will also provide support for people working in the clinical pharmacy sector and raise pharmacological education.”
SSCP, based in Riyadh, is unique in the Arab region. It was established under the umbrella of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties by a group of Saudi pharmacists. Clinical pharmacists are responsible for developing appropriate treatment plans and ensuring continued safe drug use. SSCP aims to enhance the clinical pharmacy role and develop the profession by providing scientific support and evidence-based scientific resources to ensure safe treatment use. It also aims to raise awareness of the role of clinical pharmacists in the wider society.