Who are we

Khadidja Abdallah

is a PhD researcher at KU Leuven (Belgium) and specializes in market access of orphan drugs with a focus on budget impact and payment approaches. She has a background in biomedical sciences, obtained her BSc and MSc degrees in resp. 2015 and 2018 from KU Leuven and has performed translational research on gene therapy at University College London. She is actively working towards delivering multidisciplinary and science-driven methodological guidance on optimization of payment approaches and reimbursement of orphan drugs to important stakeholders in Belgium. Her recent review on methodological quality of budget impact analyses for orphan drugs has been presented at international conferences such as ISPOR and ECRD. Ultimately, Khadidja hopes to contribute to the fair allocation of limited resources towards orphan drugs and promote sustainability in the treatment of rare diseases.

Alessandra Blonda

After graduating in Drug Development at KU Leuven, Alessandra worked in the pharmaceutical industry for a couple of years. As her last position focused on market access & public affairs for biosimilars and generics, she became more aware of the issues regarding patient access to medicines, especially those for rare disease patients. For this reason, she went back to KU Leuven to start a PhD. Through her research, she aims to increase access to orphan drugs by optimizing existing reimbursement processes.

Prof. Steven Simoens

Prof. dr. Steven Simoens is Professor of Health Economics at KU Leuven. His research interests are centered around health economic aspects of medicinal products. He has carried out numerous cost(-of-illness) analyses, economic evaluations and budget impact analyses of medicinal products. He has also worked extensively in the area of policy relating to market access of medicinal products, with a particular interest in oncology medicinal products, orphan medicinal products, generic and biosimilar medicinal products. Prof. Simoens obtained a degree in Commercial Engineering and later specialized in health economics and obtained a MSc in Health Economics (University of York, 1998) and a PhD in Economics (University of Aberdeen, 2001).

Prof. Isabelle Huys

is a pharmacist (1999, KU Leuven) and doctor in pharmaceutical sciences (KU Leuven, 2004) with further specialization in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and regulatory sciences (LL.M. in IPR, Max-Planck-Institute, Munich) is full-time professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of KU Leuven, Belgium.

Her research and teaching focusses on IPR, legal and regulatory strategies for drug development with the aim to promote access to medicines and (human) biological samples and related therapies/diagnostics.

Prof. Yvonne Denier

(°1976) studied Philosophy and Applied Ethics and is a doctor in Philosophy (KU Leuven). She was a visiting researcher at the Internationales Zentrum für Ethik in den Wissenschaften in Tübingen (Germany), and at the Hastings Center in New York. She is ethical advisor of the Zorgnet-Icuro Care Network Flanders. She is also professor of health care ethics at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law of the KU Leuven.

Her research focuses on various ethical issues in health care, such as ethics of health care organisations, cultural diversity in health care, commercialisation and privatization of health care, end-of-life care, prenatal care, orphan drugs and rare diseases, etc., as well as on theories of distributive justice and the problem of choices and just decision-making.

Yvonne Denier is a member of various ethics committees on local and Flemish level. She is a member of the Belgian Advisory Committee of Bioethics, which advises the Belgian government. She is also a board member of various social profit organisations.

Prof. Dr. Kathleen Claes

(°1971) works as staff member of the department of Nephrology, Dialysis and transplantation at the University Hospitals Leuven since 2012. She is a nephrologist with a special interest in rare renal disease, nephrogenetics, pregnancy in kidney disease and patient involvement. In that context she runs a multidisciplinary out-patient clinic (nephro-genetics, pregnancy and predialysis care). She is the president of the Belgian Society of Nephrology.

She is investigator in both fase 2 and fase 3 trials for rare renal diseases and has several publications in international journals in these fields. She is an expert of the European rare kidney disease reference network (ERKnet) and of the center of rare diseases of the University Hospitals of Leuven.

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