Essential Cancer Medicines Must Be More Affordable

Financial Times: Time to make essential cancer drugs more affordable
James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, and Ellen ‘t Hoen, first director of the Medicines Patent Pool and director of Medicines Law & Policy

“…[T]he WHO added 12 medicines for five cancer treatments to its list [of essential medicines], including several that are new and highly priced. … This presents challenges for government health care budgets because their use can potentially divert resources from more cost-effective therapies. … We urge the WHO to develop a second list of medicines — those that would be labelled ‘essential’ if they were available at affordable prices. … Our plea for making these new essential cancer medicines affordable in the developing world is bound to spark concern that the low prices will deter research and development spending for new drugs. … These concerns over innovation incentives do not require us to tolerate high prices and unequal access. They could be addressed through other measures that delink R&D spending from drug prices … We also call on the WHO to change its approach to drugs that treat metastatic cancer … [A]s first line treatments improve and extend lives, that creates a need for treatment for cancer that has metastasized” (7/21).