We need the people's prescription to fix pharma


19 October 2018

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Last year we released a report exposing pharmaceutical companies ripping-off patients through high-priced medicines. We toured the country and spoke to members of the public about the problem of putting profit above patient needs. And we heard one resounding question - what are the alternatives to this system? 

Over the last few months we’ve been working with author and economist, Mariana Mazzucato and her team at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose along with our campaigning allies, STOPAIDS and Just Treatment to answer that question. 

With the help of our supporters and members we’ve been able to produce a new report. ‘The people’s prescription: Re-imagining health innovation to deliver public value’ reveals how pharmaceutical companies not only charge unaffordable prices for medicines, they are also not delivering the drugs we need. It’s a scandal of our time but there are alternatives to a system that puts profits above public need. 

The report has already made a splash in the media. It was in The TimesWashington Post, and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, just to name a few. We also celebrated with a launch event. With speakers from the likes of the World Health Organisation, it was encouraging to hear that our report is being discussed on these platforms.

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Our report sheds light on alternatives that put public health needs, not profits, at the forefront of drug research and development.

An immediate step governments can do right now is to use their legal rights to override drug monopolies to enable lower drug prices.

However in the long term, we need more transformative proposals including:   

  • Changing the incentives in the system. Right now, big pharma is incentivised by high prices to develop new drugs. We could reward innovators with an upfront prize and then allow different producers to compete to make the drug.
  • Public funding for research and development should include conditions to ensure that drugs produced from public research is both accessible and affordable.

The corporate grip of medicines is failing patients here in the UK and across the world. For people’s health, for their lives, it’s time for change and real alternatives.

 

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