Improving affordability of new Essential Cancer Medicines


Effective cancer care requires investment in health infrastructure, a trained health workforce, and quality- assured, affordable medicines within a sustainable supply chain. To this end, in a major move to increase access to cancer medicines in low-income and middle- income countries (LMICs), WHO has added ten new cancer therapies to its 21st Model List of Essential Medicines. When WHO labels medicines as essential, it means that they have proven their utility and should be available and affordable to all. Therefore, these medicines should be included in national essential medicines lists, which would enable governments to use scarce resources to select medicines more effectively.

Including cancer medicines in the WHO Essential Medicines List is the crucial rst step. Effective national policies incorporating legal and regulatory frameworks that promote access are needed to make cancer diagnosis and treatment widely available.2 Cancer medicines often come at a high price, creating challenges even for high income countries (HICs), while their availability in LMICs is limited or non-existent. The new WHO Essential Medicines List should prompt governments and other stakeholders to take action to decrease the price of medicines in order to make them accessible.

Full text: DOI:


Authors & affiliation: 
Ellen ‘t Hoen, Medicines Law and Policy and University Medical Centre Groningen, Netherlands Salomé Meyer, Cancer Alliance South Africa, South Africa Patrick Durisch, Public Eye, Switzerland Wilbert Bannenberg, Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation, the Netherlands Katrina Perehudoff, ICRH, Ghent University, Belgium & Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada Tim Reed, Health Action International, the Netherlands Melissa J Barber, Harvard University, USA
Staff Members: 
Published In: 
Lancet Oncology - Published:July 11, 2019 DOI:
Publication date: 
Thursday, July 11, 2019