Health campaigners warn of the cost to the NHS of recent pharmaceutical proposals to reform key drug pricing mechanism
Date: 26 April 2023
In a letter to Health secretary Steve Barcley health campaigners are calling on the government to resist attempts by the pharmaceutical industry to squeeze more money out of the NHS. Instead, they are demanding that any extra spending on the NHS should go towards restoring health workers’ salaries rather than increasing corporate profits.
Organisations who signed the letter are responding to recent proposals by the ABPI to replace a central NHS pricing system with a much lower tax regime. The government has already admitted that this would cost the NHS an extra £2.5 billion a year.
The current scheme, the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS) prevents NHS spending on branded medicines from rising by more than 2% a year, but the ABPI’s proposed scheme could drive up the drug bill significantly.
Health campaigners also warn of the negative impact accepting pharma’s proposals could have on global access to medicines while doing nothing to ensure that profits in the industry are directed towards genuine medical innovation, research and development and addressing the most pressing health concerns globally. At the same time, the signatories remind the health secretary of the vital role public funding already plays in the initial high-risk stages of research that the industry benefits from.
Tim Bierley, Global Justice Now said: “The NHS must not be held to ransom by Big Pharma over drug pricing. We know that universities and public researchers already fund much of the research that pharmaceutical companies rely on, so the taxpayer is already paying twice for the many important medicines we need. It’s time to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry’s outsized power and an insatiable profit motive and find a more democratic and equitable way to produce medicines for all.”
Organisations who signed the letter –
Global Justice Now,
Health Poverty Action
Nurses United UK
People’s Health Movement UK
We Own It