WHO Report On Cancer Medicines Pricing: Detailed Info On Findings

The World Health Organization held an information session with member states and non-state actors last week to present the detailed findings of its 2018 report on cancer medicines pricing. It then posted the 72 detailed slides from the information session on its website.

WHO’s Technical Report on Pricing of cancer medicines and its impacts, released in late 2018, found that “the totality of evidence suggests that current pricing policy for cancer medicines has not adequately met health- and economic-related objectives.”

The report explained that the prices of cancer medicines “are high in both absolute and relative terms compared to other therapeutic areas,” and that some stakeholders “have influenced medicine prices higher than the true clinical value of cancer medicines, essentially lending higher negotiation power to the pharmaceutical industry.”

“This power imbalance,” it asserts, “compromises the ability of the system and individuals to pay for these medicines,” and in turn delivers “quantities less than what would be required for maximizing societal welfare.”

This report sparked a heated discussion at the WHO Executive Board Meeting in January, and prompted the Italian Ministry of Health to propose a resolution on increasing the transparency of drug prices, which is garnering support among member states, and will be discussed at the World Health Assembly in May.

The findings of the report also contributed to calls from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) for increased transparency to support negotiations on medicines pricing, and helped inform the multi-stakeholder dialogue at last month’s WHO-led Fair Pricing Forum, at which medicine price transparency was a core topic.

The report identified available options for addressing the high prices of cancer medicines:

  1. Strengthening pricing policies at the national and regional levels
  2. Improving efficiency of expenditure on medicines
  3. Improving transparency of pricing approaches and prices
  4. Promoting cross-sector & cross-border collaboration for information-sharing, regulation & procurement
  5. Managing demand-side factors influencing medicines utilization
  6. Realigning incentives for research and development

Image Credits: WHO.

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