Christian Léonard (KCE) and Martijntje Bakker (ZonMw)
The Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) and ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Care innovation, signed an agreement on 30 November to invest 6 million euros in comparative, practice-oriented clinical studies. The purpose of BeNeFIT (Belgium-Netherlands Funding of International Trials) is that Belgian and Dutch institutions carry out non-commercial practice-oriented research which is relevant to patients, caregivers and policymakers in both countries. In January 2018, KCE and ZonMw will invite Belgian and Dutch researchers to submit joint study proposals and, if selected, also to carry them out.
Health care questions relevant to both countries
The effectiveness of existing health care interventions is not yet sufficiently compared in clinical trials (e.g. comparisons between medication and surgery, operating or not operating). Moreover, a lot of research is not practice-oriented, so the results are not immediately usable in daily medical practice. Comparative, practice-oriented studies contribute to better patient care and more efficient use of public resources. Therefore in the Netherlands the government finances such studies through the ZonMw programs ‘Appropriate Medicines Use’ and ‘Efficiency Studies’. In autumn 2015, the Belgian Minister of Public Health, Maggie de Block gave KCE the mandate to select and fund such comparative effectiveness clinical studies programme (KCE Trials).
Maggie De Block, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health (Belgium): "Finding the best possible treatments for the patient is one of my priorities as Minister of Public Health. That's why in 2015 I launched a programme for practice-oriented clinical research in our country. With the BeNeFIT project we are now taking a new step forward in this story. By joining forces with the Netherlands we increase the scale and bundle our expertise and resources. This will allow us to make faster progress which is in the interests of the patient.”
KCE trials and ZonMw are now joining forces to launch a joint programme under the name ‘BeNeFIT’. After all, many questions are relevant to health care stakeholders in both countries and by working together clinical trials can be carried out more quickly and efficiently. This pilot project offers researchers, but also the financing government organisations a unique opportunity to support and learn from each other.
Bruno Bruins, Minister for Medical Care (Netherlands): "The Netherlands and Belgium have been working together intensively in the field of medicine. The cooperation in the field of research is a nice new step in our close relationship. This cooperation will deliver great results for both countries. As a result of Belgian and Dutch organisations joining forces, the research will be better and the results more valuable to our society.”
Joint call for proposals in January 2018
In January 2018, both organisations will open a joint call to Belgian and Dutch researchers for proposals that are relevant to patients, caregivers and policymakers from both countries. This call will be placed on both websites.
With a maximum budget of 6 million euros, BeNeFIT will fund studies with patients in both countries, with a good geographic distribution and in Belgium also a good spread over the two language communities.
The final results of the joint and centralised selection process of the submitted proposals will be published in June 2019.
If you want to be kept informed of this call, you can:
• Register on https://kce.fgov.be/en/Registration Form
• Sign up for the ZonMw-newsletters of Medicines and/or Effective research; You can also monitor the ZonMw grants calendar.
KCE: Frank Hulstaert (+32 2 287 33 73) or Leen Verleye (+32 2 287 33 40), or via firstname.lastname@example.org
ZonMw: Stijn Tersmette (+31 70 349 5260) or Harald Moonen (+31 70 349 5349), or via email@example.com
Additional Information for researchers
What studies are eligible for funding?
This programme focuses on ' comparative effectiveness ' studies which, in addition to the care, can improve the efficiency of health care. ' Comparative effectiveness ' studies compare two treatment options (including placebo or no treatment) that are already in use in clinical practice for an indication, but are not yet sufficiently directly compared (i.e. which of the two treatment options work best in daily practice. Treatment options are not limited to medications but also include interventions such as psychotherapy, surgery, diagnostic tests etc. The criteria is that the interventions studied are eligible for reimbursement in both countries.
The primary aim of the study should be non-commercial.
The research is set up and carried out by a consortium of several institutions, with at least two Belgian and two Dutch institutions participating.
The following are not eligible for this pilot:
• Implementation Research
• Studies on the organisation of Health Care (Health services Research)
• Studies on new interventions and innovation
• Studies where recruitment has already started, or which have already been submitted to an ethics committee (or in Belgium to the FAMHP-Federal agency for Medicines and Health products)
Who can submit a proposal?
If the sponsor (main applicant) is established in Belgium, they must be a non-commercial sponsor, as defined in the Act of 7 May 2004.
If the sponsor (main applicant) is established in the Netherlands, they must be a Dutch research or care institution.
No rights can be derived from this prior notice. The final call text and the conditions and criteria set forth therein will prevail.