At the 148th WHO Executive Board meeting, ESMO delivered an official statement related to the WHO Director-General’s Report on ‘Expanding access to effective treatments for cancer and rare and orphan diseases, including medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, assistive products, cell- and gene-based therapies and other health technologies; and improving the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines, and other health products’.
The ESMO statement welcomed WHO’s efforts on expanding access to effective treatments for cancer and rare and orphan diseases, including inexpensive, essential cancer medicines which are a public health emergency.
The statement highlighted key ESMO resources that can be of assistance to Member States in their strategies to appropriately select and prescribe cancer medicines, such as the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines, the ESMO-Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS), and the ESMO strategic recommendations to prevent and manage shortages of cancer medicines.
ESMO also noted that when countries decide to include cancer medicines in universal health coverage packages, they should consider those on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, and those with high scores on the ESMO-Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale.
ESMO raised awareness that as 24% of all new cancer cases are rare, rare cancers belong to both cancers and rare diseases. ESMO informed WHO that it has been addressing the issue of rare cancers for over ten years, since the launch of Rare Cancers Europe in 2008 and Rare Cancers Asia in 2018 – both multistakeholder initiatives coordinated by ESMO that bring together all stakeholder groups to address particular challenges faced by the community and jointly create solutions. ESMO commended the WHO proposal to create a global network of centres of excellence for rare diseases and offered to share its expertise gathered within the EU Joint Action on Rare Cancers, Rare Cancers Europe, and ESMO, as well as the 3 European Reference Networks for Rare Cancers.
ESMO also expressed its support for the WHO Fair Pricing Forum as a platform to continue discussions on the sustainability of healthcare systems, and that ESMO will be pleased to contribute, as it did in 2019, to the 2021 WHO Fair Pricing Forum with its expertise on cancer medicines and management.