”Proper management of diabetes in Kenya would cost about 120 USD per month. Not many can afford that here, myself included”
T1 Diabetes patient
Millions of people are missing the medicines they need because they are unaffordable.
The UK public invest huge amounts in scientists because we know they deliver life-saving medicines. Once invented, we trust pharmaceutical companies with the rights to these medicines so that we can get the drugs on our shelves.
The problem is that we are being excluded from the fruits of this research. The drugs that could cure you of Hepatitis C, prevent the spread of cancer or AIDS deaths are all too expensive, holding back millions of patients from getting the medicines they need both in the NHS and globally.
We need to take control of the research we fund so that we all share the benefits. We don’t know where our research money goes and have no guarantees that public money will lead to affordable medicines, rather than fund the big pay packets of pharma CEOs.
Why are drugs prices so high?
Pharmaceutical R&D is typically incentivised by granting a patent to the inventor. This patent gives pharmaceutical companies a 20 year monopoly over the product, which means no other company can produce it. With no competition, pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever price they like.
However, the UK government supports the pharmaceutical industry with a variety of incentives including research funding, grants, state facilities and tax credits. Once new medicines are invented, governments grant pharmaceutical companies with the rights to these medicines and trust them to get the drugs on our shelves.
Yet people are being excluded from the fruits of research. For instance
• Trastuzumab, a drug to treat secondary breast cancer, is unavailable in the public sector in South Africa because it costs over £30,000 in South Africa, yet it can be produced for as little as £190 including a reasonable profit.
• Sofosbuvir, a cure for Hepatitis C costs as much as £39,000 per 12 week treatment in Europe. Less than 7% of people with Hepatitis C are able to get this life-saving treatment.
• Third line anti-retrovirals to treat HIV can cost over £15,000 per patient per year
This is a global crisis that affects us in the UK too. Last year, the NHS had to spend a whopping £3.8 billion more on medicines than it did five years ago (a rise of 29%), even as pharmaceutical companies cemented their position as the world’s most profitable industry. In 2015, 80% of the growth in profits for the 20 largest drug companies came from price increases. As a result, new drugs (such as Kadcyla) are being rationed on the NHS.
TB Patient Story
Now I have accepted that I have to live with MDR TB for almost two years, I try not to stress much! I just want to get ovet it and move on with my life because this disease has stopped my plans of continuing to be involved with my TV commercials and plans I had of travelling to Johannesburg.Nikiwe Gwebani
Access to Insulin
My name is Mbolonzi, and I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes in July 2013 when I was 29 years old. I lost too much weight, my skin had become so dry, I took much water, maybe up to 5 litres in day. I also frequented the washrooms more than ever before and I woke up tired every morning.Mbolonzi