Today, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and other partners, including the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), have announced the establishment of the Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Coalition, a new global partnership to increase access to quality-assured essential cancer medicines in low- and lower middle-income countries (LLMICs) and to help countries develop the capacity for their proper use.

In 2020, more than 3.5 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in LLMICs and an estimated 2.3 million deaths were caused by cancer. If left unchecked, deaths from cancer in LLMICs are expected to rise to 4 million by 2040[1].

LLMICs report challenges to access to at least one third of life-saving cancer medicines on the WHO Model list of Essential Medicines.[2]

“For us at MPP, it is so important that people everywhere have access to the essential medicines they need, with cancer treatments often being particularly unaffordable. But access is about so much more than just affordability. Available diagnostics, well-trained healthcare staff, good infrastructure and adequate government investment are equally vital”, says Charles Gore Executive Director of MPP.

“We are delighted to be part of the ATOM consortium with its holistic approach to access. ATOM will show that sustainable access for people in low- and lower middle-income countries is eminently feasible, and we will no longer have excuses for failing to deliver that access.”

MPP is among the initial partners involved in the initiative and will be responsible of negotiating voluntary licences for priority medicines. MPP will be observer in the Coalition’s governance structure and partner with the ATOM Coalition to achieve its ambition to increase cancer medicine availability in LLMICs.

Licensing for cancer medicines is an integral part of MPP’s work on the licensing of essential medicines to support affordable access to treatments in low-and middle-income countries.

Access ATOM’s press release

More on ATOM

[1] Globocan 2020: For Low-Income Countries: ; for Low Middle Income Countries:

[2] Cherny NI, Sullivan R, Torode J, et al. ESMO International Consortium Study on the availability, out-of-pocket costs and accessibility of antineoplastic medicines in countries outside of Europe. Ann Oncol. 2017;28(11):2633-2647.