Thousands of people across the East Sussex area may be at high-risk of medical complications from seasonal flu and other health related issues this autumn, after pharmaceutical medicines continue to increase in price.
Reports have found that medical research funded by the tax-payer have become an increasing issue as of late. Campaigners such as Global Justice Now and STOP AIDS, have hit out at the pharmaceutical industry, claiming that the production of medicine is becoming unaffordable, to those that desperately need them.
Global Justice Now (GJN) are a UK-based organisation which campaigns on issues of global justice, in an attempt to combat corporation power and governmental support. In a recent report carried out by GJN and STOP AIDS, they found that the NHS reportedly spent over £1bn in 2016 on drugs which public funding had a substantial role in medicine development, including treatments for cancers, arthritis and MS.
The report also found several examples of the pharmaceutical industry prioritising profit over health, with examples such as Abiraterone for prostate cancer treatment, costing the NHS £98 per day per patient on the drug, despite a generic alternative being available at a fraction of the price of £11. Alemtuzumab, a treatment for MS, was discovered and utilised at a non-licenced cost of around £2,500 per treatment in 2012, however, the current price is now £56,000 per patient.
Despite this, the pharmaceutical industry often claims that the inflated prices, are a direct result of high research and development costs.
NHS England responded on the backlash from campaigns by GJN, claiming that the authority of responsibility in pricing of medicine ultimately falls to the Department of Health. The NHS believes that in general, the system in place should deliver value for money for patients. However, they would welcome further ‘regulatory action’ in an attempt for the NHS to make significant savings after their concern for pharmaceutical pricings.
Heidi Chow of Global Justice Now, one of the co-authors of the report was furious at the pricing and stated that: ‘’Big pharmaceutical companies are ripping us off by taking over drugs developed with substantial public money and selling the drugs back to the NHS at extortionate prices.’’
She also accused the pharmaceutical industry of robbing the taxpayer and labelled them as one of the most profitable corporations in the world.
‘As the NHS is on the brink of another winter crisis, it’s about time politicians take a stand to ensure that drugs produced from publicly funded research are affordable for the NHS.’’
Earlier in the year, the government did initially respond to the issue of drug pricing through legislation in the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Act 2017. The new UK regulations seeks to clarify and extend the Government’s power to regulate the cost of medicine, and medical supplies, collecting pricing information from pharmaceutical developers.
However, the pharmaceutical industry believe that drug development provides thousands of jobs and the current system is crucial in the encouragement of development.