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UICC launches global ATOM Coalition to increase access to essential cancer medicines

If left unmonitored, deaths from cancer in poorer countries could rise to four million by 2040


The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), as part of an alliance involving multiple partners, has launched The Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Coalition.

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

ATOM is a new global partnership focused on increasing access to quality-assured essential cancer medicines in low- and lower middle-income countries (LLMICs) and to support countries in developing the capacity for proper treatment use.

Approximately less than 50% of the cancer medicines detailed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines are currently available in LLMICs, while in 2020, over 3.5 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in LLMICs, and it is estimated that around 2.3 million premature deaths were caused by cancer.

It is anticipated that, if left unmonitored, deaths from cancer in such countries will rise to four million by 2040.

Speaking on behalf of Novartis, Dr Lutz Hegemann, president, global health and chief strategy and growth officer, said: “As part of Novartis’ commitment to address the needs of underserved populations and bring our medicines to patients, no matter where they live, we are proud to be the first pharmaceutical company to contribute a targeted therapy to this coalition, which we hope will provide a new model for the sector to help close the gaps in access to life-changing medicines.”

The ATOM Coalition will build on the existing UICC network, which is made up of member organisations from a number of countries.

The Coalition will work with international public and private sector partners, who are experienced in implementing cancer-focused access programmes, to improve access to essential cancer medicines in LLMICs.

The partners aim to create a sustainable operating model that will improve access to new medicines and that could have a significant health impact in LLMICs.

As one of the Coalition partners, AstraZeneca’s global vice president of oncology market access and pricing, Beth Hamilton, said: “A critical component of reducing cancer mortality is improving equity in cancer care. Addressing the complex and multifaceted issues hindering access to healthcare in low and low-middle income countries is a shared responsibility and requires collaboration across many stakeholders.”

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

Josep Catlla, head of corporate affairs, Sanofi, said: “Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, with a disproportionate impact on people living in the poorest countries. Tackling the burden of cancer requires close collaboration between all partners. At Sanofi, we are delighted to be part of ATOM’s initiative and shine a light on cancer care by helping strengthen healthcare systems in LMICs, including improving access to essential cancer medicines.”

Teresa Graham, head of global product strategy, Roche Pharma, said: “Improving global access to quality cancer care is a core commitment at Roche. We recognise that a challenge of this scale and scope cannot be overcome alone. This is why we have been early supporters of ATOM, working closely with our coalition partners to find the best ways to combine our expertise and strengths in diagnostics and pharmaceuticals to make a real difference for patients.”

For further information on current partners committed to the ATOM Coalition, click here.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

20th May 2022

From: Research, Healthcare



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