The World Health Organization (WHO) has expanded its list of essential medicines by adding several treatments for hepatitis C, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and a variety of cancers.
The move, which comes as a result of quarrel between pharmaceutical companies and everyday buyers over drug pricing, opens the way to improve access to new medicines that show clear clinical benefits and could improve public health on a global level, according to a statement released by the organization.
“When new effective medicine that could treat serious and widespread diseases appears on the market, it is necessary to ensure that everyone who needs the treatment can acquire it,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Placing them on WHO Essential Medicines List is a first step in that direction,” she added.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sovaldi and Harvoni, two hepatitis C cures sold by Gilead Sciences and Viekira Pak sold by AbbVie are now on to the list. These treatments efficiently cure 90 percent of those infected and cost between $63,000 to $94,500; prior to the application of any discounts.
As for cancer treatments, Herceptin, which is sold by Roche, and Gleevec, which is sold by Novartis, were also added to the WHO list, along with 14 other cancer treatments.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr Kees De Joncheere” author_title=”WHO Director of Essential Medicines”]
The Essential Medicines List includes medicines on the basis of safety and efficacy evidence, not on the basis of approved indications within national jurisdictions or availability of licensed alternatives. (…) For example, when it reviewed the application to include ranibizumab, a treatment for for severe eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, the Committee compared it with bevacizumab, the medicine currently listed, in terms of efficiency and price, and agreed to maintain bevacizumab as preferred medicine, rejecting the ranibizumab application.
“The whole purpose of WHO’s list is to provide guidance for prioritization of medicines from a clinical and public health perspective. The Essential Medicines List is just a start and ensuring that those medicines are available to patients is the real challenge,” concluded Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation.
In other unrelated health news here on Immortal News, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, indicated that data harnessed by Obamacare’s Precision Medicine Initiative will require software transparency.