NHS : Funding Drugs Hardly Anyone Can Afford / Paying Over The Odds

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
An Issue has has been going on for years ... using tax payers monies to part fund drugs that are too expensive for most potential users :


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41693246

Taxpayer-funded drugs 'too expensive for patients’

Taxpayer-funded medical research is producing medicines which are increasingly unaffordable for patients who need them, says a new report.

Campaigners claim that the NHS spent more than £1bn on drugs developed from publically funded research in 2016.

But the UK pharmaceutical industry said the main driver of price was the value of drugs to patients.

A government spokesperson said: "We want the UK to continue to be a global leader in research and development."

They added that the government was committed to ensuring patients could access the effective medicines they needed, at a price that represented value for the NHS and for taxpayers.

A new report, seen by 5 live Investigates, claims that UK taxpayers and patients worldwide are being denied the medicines they need, despite the public sector playing a pivotal role in the discovery of new medicines.

'Unsustainable' high prices

The report, published by campaign groups Global Justice Now and Stop Aids, says that even when the government has part-funded the research and development, there is no guarantee that patients will be able to access the medicines at an affordable price.

It says: "In many cases, the UK taxpayer effectively pays twice for medicines: first through investing in R&D, and then by paying high prices for the resulting medicine once ownership has been transferred to a private company."

It claims the high prices of new medicines are "unsustainable for an already underfunded NHS".

Industry representatives counter that the situation is not that straightforward.

They say that turning scientific discoveries into medicines takes years of scientific trials and costs billions of pounds, and the process is risky, so not every drug they test will make it to market.

However, campaigners say drug companies are generating huge private profits from public funds.

Emma Robertson, 35, has incurable breast cancer and is taking the drug, palbociclib.

This drug was originally developed using work carried out by publicly funded Cancer Research UK scientists in the 1980s, for which they won the 2011 Nobel Prize.

In February, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) made a provisional decision not to recommend the drug because the cost was too high in relation to its potential benefits.

However Ms Robertson is receiving the drug through a free trial provided by the drug company Pfizer.

A full course of treatment with palbociclib costs £79,650, which campaigners say means the manufacturer is vastly overpricing the drug.

They claim it could be made and sold for a profit for £1 per pill, but say in fact it is currently sold for 140 times more.

"Pfizer needs to dramatically reduce the price that it wants to charge for this drug," Ms Robertson says.

'Serious questions'

Emma Robertson, 35, has incurable breast cancer and is taking the drug, palbociclib.

This drug was originally developed using work carried out by publicly funded Cancer Research UK scientists in the 1980s, for which they won the 2011 Nobel Prize.

In February, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) made a provisional decision not to recommend the drug because the cost was too high in relation to its potential benefits.

However Ms Robertson is receiving the drug through a free trial provided by the drug company Pfizer.

A full course of treatment with palbociclib costs £79,650, which campaigners say means the manufacturer is vastly overpricing the drug.

They claim it could be made and sold for a profit for £1 per pill, but say in fact it is currently sold for 140 times more.

"Pfizer needs to dramatically reduce the price that it wants to charge for this drug," Ms Robertson says.

"We need to be asking some really serious questions about how drugs are researched and developed," she adds.

Pfizer denied the drug costs £1 per pill.

It told the BBC that it took more than 20 years to build on the work of the Cancer Research UK scientists.

Turning scientific discoveries into medicines takes "billions of pounds of investment, millions of hours of science and thousands of clinical trials," the firm explained.

There are around 45,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer each year in England.

Meanwhile, health bosses estimate that around 5,500 people in England would be eligible for treatment with palbociclib.
'Complete myth'

Richard Sullivan, professor of cancer and global health at Kings College London, said that while some drug companies price their drugs correctly, others "vastly overprice" their drugs.

"Many of these drugs are extremely profitable", he said, "but there is absolutely no link between the price set and with the returns on the research - it's a complete myth."

"When a drug is refused by Nice there's only one reason it's refused - the company has knowingly overpriced the drug."

Professor Sullivan told the BBC that the public sector had contributed anywhere between "30% and up to 90% of the overall research intellectual input" in the development of drugs.

"The public sector is essential for developing new medicines for cancer patients," he added.

The Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry responded by saying that the suggestion that companies intentionally overpriced drugs "doesn't make sense" because their overall objective is to ensure that the drugs are approved by Nice and then used by patients.

Controversy

In 2015, the UK government spent £2.3bn on health research and development and the relationship been public funding and profits is complex.

Campaigners say more needs to be done to reform the system and that research and development should not be linked to sales revenue.

Instead, campaigners argue, companies should be rewarded for their research in exchange for limiting the price of drugs.

However the pharmaceutical industry says it provides thousands of jobs and the current system is crucial to encouraging drug development.


Sort that one out ?

No easy answers ... more one ethics can anything else.

" Here's a cure for all ailments ! Your for more than you can afford ... ? "

Suffice to say , said practices will continue ... £ Billions are at stake.

Human beings ?

A poor second to money ... seems to be " The Golden Rule " ?

Take on these companies ?

A David / Goliath contest ... many countries being the David ... including the UK.

For the curious :

https://www.forbes.com/sites/corinnejur ... 6ce497cf19

Sums quoted could buy you London ... with the change , Birmingham !

Banking crisis 2008 ... bailout of banks almost bankrupting our economy ?

These companies could have done the same ... out of cash flow ... and still have carried on after that mere hiccup !

No need to even consider their version of " Lobbying " ... worldwide ...

In some countries , an extension of the Government ... Obama Care on the way out ???

Needless to say , all those with monies to invest will have a few of their shares in their portfolios ... some , a mere tens of millions worth ... for a rainy day ?
A twist ... being over charged for drugs ... BBC web site :


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42063274


NHS overcharged by millions for key drug, says watchdog


Drug company Concordia overcharged the NHS by millions for a key thyroid treatment, the Competition and Markets Authority has provisionally found.

The CMA said that last year the NHS spent £34m on its drug, liothyronine, up from about £600,000 in 2006.

The amount the NHS paid per pack rose from around £4.46 in 2007 to £258.19 by July 2017, an increase of almost 6,000%.

Concordia said it did "not believe that competition law has been infringed".

The CMA said the price rise took place despite "broadly stable" production costs.

Liothyronine tablets are primarily used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition caused by a deficiency of thyroid hormone affecting at least two in every 100 people and which can lead to depression, tiredness and weight gain.

Until earlier this year, Concordia was the only supplier of the drug.

CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said: "Pharmaceutical companies which abuse their position and overcharge for drugs are forcing the NHS - and the UK taxpayer - to pay over the odds for important medical treatments.

"We allege that Concordia used its market dominance in the supply of liothyronine tablets to do exactly that."

He stressed that, at this stage in the investigation, the findings were provisional and there has been no definitive decision that there had been a breach of competition law.

The CMA said it was one of a number of cases it was looking at within the pharmaceutical sector.

Previously, the watchdog has fined drugs giant Pfizer and Flynn Pharma nearly £90m in relation to what it called "excessive and unfair prices" for the anti-epilepsy treatment, phenytoin sodium capsules.

It also fined a number of pharmaceutical companies a total of £45m in relation to anti-depressant medicine paroxetine.

Both those decisions are under appeal.

The CMA is pursuing another seven investigations into several companies in relation to drug pricing and competition issues.


That's the way OUR money goes ... ?

OUR NHS ... ripe for the picking !
Pharmaceutical pricing is a hideously dodgy area!

It's incredibly difficult to work out a 'fair' price, ie, one that reflects the cost of R&D in the first place, then the cost of getting FDA etc approval (all the clinical trials), and then finally the usually (pretty minimal!) cost of production, marketing and distribution etc etc.

One of the key problems is that any medically effective (and regulatorily approved) and commercially successful drug has to be priced to pay for the R&D/approval-process costs of all the other NON-successful drugs! Of which there can be far more than successful ones.

Then the pharma companies only have a limited time span (around ten years I think) before their patents expire and the drug becomes generic, and anyone can produce and sell it or a clone.

I guess in countries where healthcare is funded by private individual/corporate insurance schemes, the ultimate 'gating' on pricing is set by the insurance companies themselves (ie, what they are prepared to pay out for their customers).

However, in the UK, of course, it is Pharmas-with-Very-Expensive-and-Ruthless Lawyers versus Public-Sector-Lesser-Lawyers to hammer out the price.......guess who usually wins!!!!

That said, the 'trump card' the NHS holds is to refuse NICE approval, and that is the only gun they can hold to Pharna's head.

Sometimes, disease-support-groups agitating for the drug's approval get funded BY Pharma, to put pressure on the NHS etc.

it's a Moral Maze whether they should accept pharma money. But when your life is at stake, 'protecting the NHS' is NOT your first concern - it's staying alive! (and arguably, especially in CancerWorld, the damn NHS should have invested in mass screening anyway so you don't end up with terminal cancer in the first damn place!) (what price a cat scan for the price of your life???)

In the end, there IS a 'fair price' for a drug, depending on the total development costs, that should be a 'fair profit' for Pharma - but since most pharma report huge profits, clearly they ARE overcharging for quite a lot of their output!