Cancer Medicine Prices in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
(2012; 8 pages)


While it is estimated that more than 30 percent of deaths can be prevented through early detection and modifying or avoiding key risk factors, the demand for cancer treatment, especially in low-income countries, is not being adequately met. High cost and poor availability of cancer treatment are significant barriers to access in many LMICs.

Ensuring affordable access to quality cancer medicines, vaccines, and related health technologies depends not only on wise selection by national authorities, but also on price reduction and procurement strategies appropriate to each type of product. If essential medicines for cancer are listed in a country’s national essential medicines list (NEML) and linked to standard treatment guidelines, selection and procurement become easier and can contribute to lower prices. For example, antihypertensive medicines are cheaper in the public sector when listed in an NEML.

Procurement officers often do not have easy access to available pricing information to make the best purchase decisions for public health programs. Transparent, web-based exchange of information on prices and sources of cancer medicines and vaccines should be expanded. Such information can achieve dramatic price reductions –especially on off-patent products– when used in competitively pooled procurement by reliable global, regional, or national procurement and supply organizations.

The pricing information for these chemotherapeutic agents is from the 2010 edition of the International Drug Price Indicator Guide ( published by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and WHO. Pricing data are indicative of buyer prices – usually government agency international competitive bidding, or tender, prices from public sector sources. All prices from the MSH Drug Price Indicator Guide are from reputable suppliers who meet quality standards established by MSH and WHO.

The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: October 29, 2018