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Improving Access to Essential Life-Saving Cancer Medicine

Published: 2022-05-20
Author: Union for International Cancer Control | Contact: uicc.org
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Pharmaceutical Information Publications

Synopsis: Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Coalition is a global partnership to increase access to quality-assured essential cancer medicines in low and lower middle-income countries and to help countries develop capacity for their proper use. In 2020, more than 3.5 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in LLMICs and an estimated 2.3 million premature deaths were caused by cancer. If left unchecked, deaths from cancer in low-income and in lower middle-income countries are expected to rise to 4 million by 2040. The ATOM Coalition is bringing together a unique and powerful group of organizations and companies from different sectors to address the challenge of access to cancer medicines in LLMICs. Together, these organizations currently operate in more than 100 countries and collectively have decades of experience helping improve cancer treatment and care in low- and middle-income countries.

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Main Digest

The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and multiple partners* are establishing the Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Coalition, a new global partnership to increase access to quality-assured essential cancer medicines(1) in low and lower middle-income countries (LLMICs)(2) and to help countries develop the capacity for their proper use.

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It is estimated that less than 50% of the cancer medicines on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (WHO EML)(3) are currently available in LLMICs. In 2020, more than 3.5 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in LLMICs and an estimated 2.3 million premature deaths were caused by cancer. If left unchecked, deaths from cancer in low-income(4) and in lower middle-income countries(5) are expected to rise to 4 million by 2040.

Prof. Anil D'Cruz, President of UICC and Director of Oncology at Apollo Hospitals in India, explains:

"Simply making affordable cancer medicines available does not guarantee that people living with cancer will receive the medicines they need at the right time. This new partnership is set up to ensure that low- and lower-middle income countries get the support they need to receive the essential cancer medicines where they are currently lacking, as well as the training on their use so that their availability becomes sustainable long term and addresses the specific needs of each country regarding its cancer burden."

Today, there are many access initiatives in operation that seek to improve the delivery of essential cancer medicines to people who require them in LLMICs. The ATOM Coalition brings these excellent initiatives together to generate synergies, exchange best practices and streamline efforts between in-country and global partners.

The ATOM Coalition will build on UICC's network of member organizations in selected countries, as well as on the range of global and country-level public and private sector partners with expertise in implementing cancer-focused access programs. This will amplify the effectiveness of ATOM Coalition partners and enable countries to increase access to diagnostics and essential cancer medicines.

The ATOM Coalition partners seek to build a sustainable operating model that facilitates access over time, as breakthroughs occur, to new medicines that can have a significant health impact in LLMICs, whilst ensuring that today's effective medicines are more widely available across those countries sustainably. In particular, ATOM Coalition partners will work together to:

The ATOM Coalition will be formally launched on Sunday 22 May 2022 at a UICC side event of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

The ATOM Coalition will be structured as an informal alliance comprised of all ATOM partners and key representatives from target countries and led by a governing council. UICC will serve as Secretariat of the ATOM Coalition and coordinate ATOM partners in their shared ambition to work collectively in target ATOM countries. The ATOM Coalition will also include regional and national organizations within its governance structure, ensuring that it properly represents the needs of cancer patients in LLMICs.

In the first phase of operations, the ATOM Coalition will support the implementation of intensive coordinated capacity building activities in up to 10 countries, expanding to other LLMICs over time, and will focus on increasing access to medicines in over half of countries currently classified as LLMICs.

ATOM Coalition partners

The ATOM Coalition is bringing together a unique and powerful group of organizations and companies from different sectors to address the challenge of access to cancer medicines in LLMICs. Together, these organizations currently operate in more than 100 countries and collectively have decades of experience helping improve cancer treatment and care in low- and middle-income countries.

The current partners committed to the ATOM Coalition include (as at 18 May 2022):

African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), AstraZeneca, BeiGene, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BGVH), Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), Direct Relief, Health Financing Institute, Gilead, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), International Generic and Biosimilar medicines Association (IGBA), McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer, National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), Novartis, Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), Roche, Sanofi, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Global Oncology, Teva, The Defeat-NCD Partnership, The Max Foundation (Max), and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

The Access to Medicine Foundation and Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) will be observers in the governance structure and collaborate with the ATOM Coalition to support its ambition to increase the availability of cancer medicines in LLMICs.

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Reference Source(s):

Improving Access to Essential Life-Saving Cancer Medicine | Union for International Cancer Control (uicc.org). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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