Big pharma has extracted £12 billion from the NHS. And still they want more
A pile of pound coins

Big pharma has extracted £12 billion from the NHS. And still they want more

By: Tim Bierley
Date: 12 July 2023
Campaigns: Pharma

Today we have published an investigation – featured in today’s i newspaper – that shows big pharma companies have extracted £12 billion in excess profits from the NHS, through sales on just 10 drugs in the last decade.

Big pharma often responds to accusations of greed by saying that it needs huge profits to fund research and development on new drugs.

However, we found that each of these drugs – the 10 most costly to the NHS in the last decade – have received support from the public or charities.

Despite these huge excess profits, big pharma thinks it can squeeze even more money out of the NHS.

The industry is right now lobbying the government to add another £2.5 billion to the NHS drugs bill.

We can’t stand for this.

23,000% profits

Our calculations allowed for a reasonable 50% profit margin for pharma companies above the estimated costs of production, which gives you an idea of the scale of big pharma’s profiteering.

Big pharma’s idea of a healthy profit is different, though.

We found that one company was charging a mark-up of 23,000% on a key cancer drug despite having contributed extremely little to its development.

This might sound shocking, but it is business as usual for the pharmaceutical industry.

Big pharma consistently sends more money to its shareholders than it spends on researching new drugs.

The prices it charges for drugs bear no relation to what they actually cost to produce. Globally, the public pays for two-thirds of all upfront drug R&D costs.

This is not a medicines industry: it’s simply a money-making machine.

Even more cash

Not content with profits that would already make an oil exec blush, big pharma is trying to water down a drugs pricing deal and suck out even more cash from the NHS.

Our research, combined with big pharma’s latest demands, shows just how broken the current model of producing medicines is.

Unless we fix it, our health system could be at risk.

We need to put a stop to this profiteering and take control of medicines, especially as it is so often our money that funds them.

We’re campaigning with doctors, nurses and patients to build a new system.

But first, we need to stop big pharma’s latest and most dangerous attempt to raid the NHS and send more money back to its shareholders.

Take action

Tell the government not to cave in to big pharma >>