KEI Statements on World Health Assembly Committee Passage of Cancer Resolution | May 30, 2017

For additional information, contact:

  • James Love (+41.76.413.6854 thru Wed., May 31, 2017, and +1.202.361.3040 thereafter,
  • Thiru Balasubramaniam (, +41.76.508.0997)

The final text of the resolution (WHA70.12, Cancer prevention and control in the context of an integrated approach) can be found it here:

Statement of James Love, Director, KEI:

“On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, delegates meeting at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva passed a resolution that gives the World Health Organization (WHO) a new mandate for its work on cancer prevention and treatment. The resolution is an important milestone in focusing the attention of the UN body on the disparities of access to treatment. The most controversial issue in the resolution was the text dealing with pharmaceuticals, and in particular, pricing and access, transparency of R&D costs, and to conduct a feasibility study of delinking R&D costs, including incentives, from drug prices.

“The Trump Administration opposed a specific reference to a feasibility study for delinkage. Some European countries, such as Portugal and France, and some developing countries, such as India and Brazil, were supportive of studying alternatives to high drug prices. In the end, the resolution provides a sufficient mandate for the WHO Secretariat to address delinkage, by referencing the ‘value chain’ of drug development and pricing, and ‘options that might enhance the affordability and accessibility of these medicines.’

“Going forward, much will depend upon the new leadership at the WHO, as these reforms were previously blocked by the outgoing WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, as well as the level of support for delinkage in Member States. Without decent political leadership on delinkage at the national level, it won’t happen. Fortunately, there is now growing interest in Europe, more support in developing countries (in part due to the positive impact of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicine), and some encouraging signs in the United States. Several members of the U.S. Congress are now calling for feasibility studies of delinkage, and even some persons in the Trump Administration have signaled some new openness on this issue.

“On September 26, members of the European Parliament will host two days of meetings on delinkage, where the proposal for a Cancer Innovation Fund will be discussed.”

Statement of Thiru Balasubramaniam, Geneva Representative, KEI:

“The World Health Organization has a fresh mandate that we think can be used to address the most transformative reforms to make cancer drugs available at affordable prices, but it will take a lot of work to move this forward. We look for Dr. Tedros to take the bull by the horns to lead WHO’s work on transparency, affordability, and delinkage.”

For more information on delinkage, visit: