Drug prices and the publicly-funded research and development (R&D) of medicines is an important issue. The Missing Medicines campaign says that millions of people in the developing world are missing out on the medicines they need. Even here in the UK, the situation of drug prices is not serving patients or taxpayers as well as it could and serious concerns continue to be raised about the availability of new treatments.
In September 2016, the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines published a report on this issue. The report recommended that governments negotiate a binding R&D treaty that delinks the costs of innovation from the end prices of health technologies. The report also called for greater transparency to ensure that the costs of the R&D, production, marketing and distribution of medicines, as well as the end prices, are clear to consumers and governments.
The government should give proper consideration to the High-Level Panel’s report. Measures such as these could help ensure fairness in drug pricing and assist international agencies more effectively to support drug and vaccine deployment in countries where they are needed. We must invest in new public-health driven R&D to find effective and affordable treatments for a range of diseases in the developing world, including TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases.
Pharmaceutical research in the UK needs to be better managed and supported, and more effective. At the June 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that committed to insisting on value-for-money agreements with pharmaceutical companies and ensuring that all NHS patients get access to the most effective new drugs and treatments. I will continue to push for action on this issue.