A new campaign from Global Justice Now highlights how millions of people in the developing world are missing out on the medicines they need. Even here in the UK, the situation on drug prices is not serving patients or taxpayers as well as it could and 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 calling 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. Ministers should consider the report carefully. Measures such as these could help ensure fairness in drug pricing and assist international agencies to support drug and vaccine deployment in countries where they are needed.
Research in the UK needs to be better managed and supported, and more effective. At the 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.
More widely, the development of new medicines depends on international co-operation, and effective joint working with European countries has been vital for the NHS. As the UK withdraws from the EU, it is important for improving health outcomes that the UK can continue to access these networks. The government needs to ensure that our joint research co-operation is safeguarded and that patients have continued access to medicines and medical technologies post-Brexit. This is a point we heard robustly put during the recent Health Select Committee enquiry into Brexit and the NHS and which will report soon.