Pricey new hepatitis C and cancer drugs make Essential Medicines List

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Several expensive new drugs that treat hepatitis C and some common cancers appear on the latest Essential Medicines List (EML) published by the World Health Organization (WHO). An expert committee every 2 years selects medicines for the list based on scientific evidence that the drugs work and are safe and cost effective. This year’s list, released 8 May, includes five new drugs that target the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and 16 new cancer medicines. Notably pricey members of the influential list include sofosbuvir for HCV and the antileukemia drug Gleevec. (In wealthy countries, a full course of treatment with these drugs costs more than $75,000 per patient.) “We are trying to use the list as leverage for increasing access and further actions on a global level,” says Nicola Magrini, a pharmacologist in Bologna, Italy, and WHO’s top overseer of EML.Many developing countries use EML to arrive at their own lists, which help determine how much money they invest in different medicines. “Calling some drugs ‘essential’ makes it clear that they are more important than others, and countries drive their attention to these medicines,” Magrini says. But he stresses that WHO “assists” countries but does not “steer” them, and it also “is not involved in price setting or price negotiation.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Emailcenter_img EML includes more than 400 drugs and vaccines and focuses on common diseases and conditions. Magrini describes the list as “a flag” from a neutral party that a “cost-effective” drug is of little use if countries cannot afford it. “This speaks to a need to redefine what cost effectiveness means,” Magrini says. “It’s not a part of the solution. It’s part of the problem.”But Magrini says it still takes too long for many lifesaving medicines to become widely available and that EML highlights the gaps. For example, sofosbuvir’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City, California, sells the drug to Egypt at a discount and allows generic manufacturers in India to produce and sell in 91 poorer countries. But advocates have criticized Gilead for not offering deals to some 50 middle-income countries, and they hope the EML listing—which the company actually requested—will build momentum to lower pricing worldwide. “The list is a very clever tool,” Magrini says. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img

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