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UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock rallies against 'rip off' pharma companies

Published on 11/09/18 at 06:16pm
Image Credit: Department of Energy and Climate Change

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that pharmaceutical companies are trying to “rip off taxpayers” and that big business should act in a more socially responsible manner, in an interview with the British newspaper, The Times.

In taking a surprisingly assertive stance against the pharmaceutical industry, the British Minister added that he was “not going to let big pharmaceutical companies hold the NHS to ransom” in drug pricing negotiations as he condemned drugmakers “profiteering” through extortionate drug prices.

The comments have come after UK drug price negotiators reached a stalemate over the price of Vertex Pharmaceuticals' cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.

He went on to suggest that NICE's offers have so far been “incredibly generous” as he accused Boston-based Vertex of “profiteering off the back of the NHS.”

However in response Vertex said: “We have made an offer to NHS England that is the best in the world, for all of our medicines and all patients, and their response has been to offer us a fraction of what other countries pay for our medicine.”

The call comes as issues surrounding drug pricing have come to the forefront after Donald Trump called on 'Pfizer and others' to reduce their prices. While the president's comments have spurned a back and forth between the US government and the pharmaceutical industry trade lobby PhRMA, the crisis seems to have washed up on the shores of the United Kingdom as NICE chose to adopt Novartis' Kymriah, while Gilead's own CAR T therapy Yescarta is still under review. Meanwhile, campaigners in Manchester protested outside of NICE's headquarters calling for the institute to offer Biogen's $750,000 drug Spinraza on the NHS.

Louis Goss

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