The NHS has been forced into yet another secretive deal with a big pharmaceutical company to ensure access for cancer patients to the newest medicines. But while access to new drugs is obviously good news for cancer patients, the deal itself paints a bleak picture for the future of our NHS.
Campaign groups Global Justice Now and STOPAIDS have welcomed a statement by NHS England to the BBC’s 5 Live Investigates this morning that “further regulatory action may be needed” on drug pricing at a time when NHS funding is under severe pressure.
Treatments for cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS) are among drugs costing the cash-strapped NHS over a billion pounds a year – despite public funding playing a substantial role in the medicines’ development.
UK taxpayers and patients worldwide are being denied the medicines they need, despite the public sector playing a pivotal role in the discovery of new medicines. The UK government is the second largest funder country, after the US, for research and development (R&D) in diseases that predominantly affect poor countries. Across all areas of health R&D, the UK government spent £2.3 billion on health R&D in 2015 alone.