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ABPI hits back at Prime Minister’s criticism of high drug prices

Published on 15/10/15 at 10:01am
PM David Cameron
David Cameron answers MP's questions on October 14 2015

The ABPI has responded to comments made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron during yesterday’s Prime Minster’s Questions, in which he criticised the high price charged by pharma companies for certain drugs.

Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillam questioned Cameron about a young constituent, Archie Hill, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The Hill family has campaigned for the NHS to provide the new treatment, PTC Therapeutics’ Translarna (ataluren), the first treatment approved for the underlying cause of the condition, and whether the Prime Minister could guarantee NICE would respond positively.

Cameron answered: “I well remember meeting Archie, with his incredible spirit and his way of campaigning. As well as making sure that such decisions are made by clinicians, rather than politicians, we need to talk to the drug companies about getting the cost of these drugs down. This drug and others like it can cost over £400,000 per patient per year. The cancer drugs fund has helped to reduce the costs that the companies charge. We need to see that in other areas too.”

The ABPI hit back at the Prime Minister’s criticism of drug companies, with acting chief executive Alison Clough, saying: “We were very surprised and disappointed to hear David Cameron’s comments, which don’t recognise the positive contribution the UK pharmaceutical industry makes to the economy, to patients, to Government and to the NHS.

“The role of the Cancer Drugs Fund is to fund medicines that have been rejected or not approved by NICE because it was recognised that the UK was lagging behind other comparable countries in cancer outcomes and access to new cancer medicines.  This is despite the UK having prices below the European average. It was not set up to bring down prices but to ensure that patients had improved access to these new medicines.”

NICE is set to make an announcement regarding its decision on Translarna on Friday. Patients in England will hope they will be granted the same level of access already enjoyed by their counterparts in Scotland.

Joel Levy

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