Call for Action on Cancer Drugs by YP-CDN, KEI, and UAEM at 67th World Health Assembly

At the opening of the 67th World Health Assembly, today the Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YP-CDN), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) released a briefing, “Cancer medicines are essential in reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases.”

The briefing (attached) emphasized that although the WHA-endorsed 2013 Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) set a laudable target of an “80% availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines, including generics, required to treat major NCDs in both public and private facilities” by 2020, the international community must do more to ensure that medicines for cancer are more widely accessible globally if they are to reach their stated goal.

In addition, YP-CDN, KEI, and UAEM’s briefing highlights the need for,

“…more attention to the promising and logical proposals to delink R&D costs from product prices, and to provide incentives for treatments that are affordable and feasible in low resource settings. Examples of de-­linkage include the proposals for cancer prize fund alternatives to patent monopolies, and the proposal for innovation inducement prizes to stimulate innovation in open source low cost cancer diagnostics.”

As the WHO works to reduce the global burden of NCDs, the global community should recognize the failures of the current business model and consider delinkage proposals that stimulate innovation in fields like oncology as well as others.

Also discussed in the briefing are petitions filed in 2012 for two anti-cancer drugs, imatinib and trastuzumab, to be added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Model Essential Medicines List (EML). Drugs included on the WHO EML represent priority health care needs and play a significant role in guiding nations’ formularies and elevating these two anti-cancer drugs would greatly increase visibility for and work towards helping to reduce the burden of cancer globally.

YP-CDN, KEI, and UAEM support the WHO’s proposed steps to consider the inclusion of oncology products on the WHO EML, and in light of this fact, calls the 67th WHA to action on several key considerations:

  • Monitor WHO’s process for evaluating oncology medicines for inclusion in the EML, bearing in mind WHO’s review of the WHO EML on cytotoxic and adjuvant medicines in relation to the 19th Expert Committee’s consideration of the inclusion of imatinib and trastuzumab in 2015
  • Ensure that WHO guidelines for the treatment of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers be issued by the 68th World Health Assembly in May 2015
  • Ensure that WHO’s Prequalification Programme (WHO PQP) expand its remit to include the prequalification of oncology biopharmaceuticals, including such products as imatinib and trastuzumab.

For the full briefing, please see the attached file.

Claire Cassedy