Ask your MP to support a people's prescription

High drug prices are crippling NHS budgets and leaving people across the world unable to afford life-saving medicines. Globally, millions of people die every year because they cannot afford the medicines they need and even the NHS has had to ration vital medicines because of their high price.

This situation is an injustice in itself, made worse by the fact that some of the most expensive medicines out there have actually been developed through public funding.

In 2017/18 the NHS paid big pharma £1.1billion for the five most expensive cancer medicines. Three of these drugs were developed with public funding.

The profits from expensive medicines are lining the pockets of big pharma companies whilst patients and health services suffer.

It’s time that all political parties took bold steps to put people’s health above corporate wealth. Their party manifestos would be a good way of showing a commitment to make medicines truly accessible and affordable for all.

We’ve joined forces with the Missing Medicines Coalition*– a network of UK organisations fighting for affordable medicines globally - to come up with a set of proposals to take to MPs who can speak to their leadership about the urgency of this issue.

Email your MP. Ask them to write to their party leadership about the steps they can take to create a more just health system that prioritises public needs not corporate greed.

*The Missing Medicines Coalition is made up of STOPAIDS, Just Treatment, Students for Global Health, People's Health Movement UK, T1 International, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, We Are Chasing Zero, Youth STOPAIDS, Oxfam, Dying For a Cure, Global Justice Now

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Some of the proposals we would like political parties to take up:

  • We need to use the legal flexibilities that exist within the World Trade Organisation that allow governments to call for cheaper generic drugs to be manufactured if a pharmaceutical company is charging an unsustainable price for their product.
  • We need conditions placed on medicines that have been developed through public funding to ensure they are accessible and affordable for the people who need them. This is an immediate step political parties should consider introducing into their manifestos.
  • We need new ways to incentivise health innovation.  Pharmaceutical companies can charge high prices because of patents on new medicines. Without competition, they can charge whatever price they like. There are other ways of incentivising research though such as grants or cash prices. Under this approach a company is rewarded for the innovation upfront and without a patent monopoly other companies can make the drug and drive down prices.

If you’d like more information please read our briefing.