Report summary

Expanding access to monoclonal antibody-based products: a global call to action

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are one of the most powerful tools in modern medicine. From cancer to COVID-19, they are being developed to treat many different diseases. However, most of the world’s population don’t have access to them. 

This report sets out a roadmap to making these lifesaving treatments affordable and available, particularly to those living in low- and middle-income countries. 

Wellcome's affordable innovations for global health flagship supported IAVI to produce this report.  

Key findings

Monoclonal antibody development is one of the fastest-growing segments of biomedical research 

  • In 2019, seven of the 10 best-selling novel drugs were mAbs for cancer and inflammatory diseases. 
  • More than 570 mAbs are currently in clinical testing.

There is a global need for monoclonal antibodies, but they are not globally accessible

  • 80% of mAbs are sold in the United States, Europe and Canada. Only 20% of mAbs are sold in the rest of the world, which makes up 85% of the global population. 
  • Few, if any, mAbs are available in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). India – which has the most registered mAbs for a LMIC – has 36, compared to the US (112) and Europe (120). 
  • Monoclonal antibodies are among the world's most expensive treatments. For example, the median price for mAb treatment in the United States is $15k-200k per year. Where mAbs are available in LMICs, they often aren’t reimbursed by public health systems, which adds to their unaffordability.

We need to take action to reshape the monoclonal antibody world 

Ensuring equitable access to monoclonal antibodies requires four parallel commitments:

  • Increase awareness: spread the word that monoclonal antibodies save lives
  • Expand availability: support broader registration of monoclonal antibodies across the globe
  • Apply innovations: invest in and deploy new technologies to lower development costs
  • Create new models: establish business models that enable different market approaches and promote access.

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"This report sets out an achievable roadmap of actions to make equitable access to antibody therapies a reality, but global collaboration is paramount through new policy, business models and innovation. In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more critical to take lessons from this report and break down barriers to accessing these life-saving tools. We must ensure that any potential advances to treat COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies are made equally accessible around the world, without exceptions."
Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome

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