The UK government has blatantly chosen to side with big pharma over patients


28 May 2019

The UK government has recklessly blocked global efforts to tackle big pharma secrecy this week in Geneva. But across the world, people are mobilising to give a strong message that it’s time governments put people over the power of big pharma. With prices of medicines skyrocketing at unsustainable levels, transparency can no longer be optional for the pharmaceutical industry.

A global resolution to make drugs more affordable

Intense negotiations over a resolution to improve transparency over drug prices, research and development costs and clinical trial results have been taking place at the World Health Assembly over the past ten days. The draft resolution would have enabled governments to radically improve their position in price negotiations with big pharmaceutical companies and enabled a more informed discussion over what constitutes fair pricing for medicines.

The UK’s double attack

But the resolution text has been systematically attacked and weakened, spearheaded by the UK and Germany.

In addition to inserting amendments to gut the resolution, including taking out any mention of high priced medicines, the UK government has also attempted to derail the negotiations completely. The watered-down resolution was formally approved by the World Health Organisation this morning. And in a final act of sabotage and hypocrisy, the UK government publicly declared that they are ‘disassociating’ themselves from the resolution - which they had actively weakened! It is irresponsible that the UK is clearly choosing to side with the interests of the pharmaceutical industry over the interests of patients.

People before big pharma

Although weakened, the resolution has propelled the problem of high drug prices to the forefront of the global political agenda on health. It has also galvanised international mobilisation and solidarity with campaigners from around the world calling for proper transparency. From our co-ordinated twitter campaign here in the UK, an open statement by 47 global civil society organisations  to the joint letters sent to the German, UK and French governments from 66 countries in Africa calling on them to stop blocking progress on transparency.

The global movement is united in its fight to challenge high drug prices, the corporate grip over medicines and even more determined to hold governments to account on what they have agreed to this week. 

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