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WHO prioritises diabetes and cancer treatments in new medicines lists

The World Health Organisation has prioritised access to diabetes and cancer treatments in the new Essential Medicines List published on Friday.

According to WHO, high prices and low availability is still a major barrier for patients’ access to new and old medicines.

The new edition of the Model Lists of Essential Medicines and Essential Medicines for Children, includes new treatments for various cancers, insulin analogues and new oral medicines for diabetes, new medicines to assist people who want to stop smoking, and new antimicrobials to treat serious bacterial and fungal infections.

The listings aim to address global health priorities, identifying the medicines that provide the greatest benefits, and which should be available and affordable for all.

“Diabetes is on the rise globally, and rising faster in low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“Too many people who need insulin encounter financial hardship in accessing it or go without it and lose their lives. Including insulin analogues in the Essential Medicines List, coupled with efforts to ensure affordable access to all insulin products and expand use of biosimilars, is a vital step towards ensuring everyone who needs this life-saving product can access it.”

Cancers are among the leading causes of illness and death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, with seven out of 10 occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

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