The World Health Organization introduced its Global Breast Cancer Initiative March 8 with the goal of reducing global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% per year until 2040, thereby saving about 2.5 million lives. The initiative will focus on public education, timely diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. Although breast cancer survival five years after diagnosis exceeds 80% in most high-income countries, WHO said it is much lower in other countries. For instance, five-year survival rates are 66% in India and 40% in South Africa. Treating breast cancer has become more of a priority now that it has overtaken lung cancer as the world’s most commonly diagnosed cancer and is responsible for one in six of all cancer deaths among women.

PhRMA urges Biden to stand by IP rights

Amid reports that the Biden administration might be rethinking its support of a proposal to suspend critical intellectual property (IP) provisions of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) wrote to President Joe Biden last week urging him to continue to stand with Brazil, Canada, the EU, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the U.K. in opposing the waiver. The proposal, led by India and South Africa, would waive “protection and enforcement of copyrights, industrial designs, patents and trade secrets on any COVID-19 innovation until widespread vaccination is in place globally,” PhRMA said. It added that there’s no evidence to support the sponsors’ claim that IP “is hindering the global response to the pandemic and that the waiver would help scale up research, development, manufacturing and supply of needed products.” Instead, the trade group said, IP has been the foundation to speed R&D of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines and to facilitate technology sharing needed to scale up manufacturing.