Labour will take on pharmaceutical companies and put public health before private profit – Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour Party Leader, has today announced Labour’s plans to put “public health before private profit” by ensuring that pharmaceutical companies make vital drugs available at prices that the National Health Service can afford.
Jeremy Corbyn raised the case of Luis Walker, a nine-year-old boy he met on Monday who is living with cystic fibrosis and is being denied the medicine he needs – Orkambi – because its manufacturer refuses to sell the drug to the NHS for an affordable price. The Labour leader attacked the pharmaceutical industry and drug companies for putting “profits for shareholders before people’s lives” in the case of Luis and thousands of others suffering from illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, hepatitis C and breast cancer.
Speaking at Labour Party Conference, the Labour leader launched ‘Medicines for the Many’, a radical programme of reforms to make life-changing drugs available at affordable prices and create a health innovation system that will put public health before private profit.
Promising to take on the big pharmaceutical companies which deny life-saving and life-changing medicines to ill patients by charging extortionate prices, the Labour Leader announced plans to secure generic versions of patented medicines at a price that is affordable for the NHS, make public funding for research conditional on the result drugs being priced affordably for all and create a new, publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS.
Raising the case of Luis Walker, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“Yesterday I met Luis Walker, a nine-year-old boy who is living with cystic fibrosis. Every day he needs at least four hours of treatment and is often in hospital, keeping him from school and his friends.
“Luis’s life could be very different with the aid of a medicine called Orkambi. But Luis is denied the medicine he needs because its manufacturer refuses to sell the drug to the NHS for an affordable price.
“Luis, and tens of thousands of others suffering from illnesses like cystic fibrosis, hepatitis C, and breast cancer, are being denied life-saving medicines by a system that puts profits for shareholders before people’s lives.”
Announcing the reforms in his speech at Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn said:
“We will redesign the system to serve public health not private wealth using compulsory licensing to secure generic versions of patented medicines.
“We’ll tell the drugs companies that if they want public research funding, then they’ll have to make their drugs affordable for all.
“And we will create a new, publicly-owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS – saving our health service money, and saving lives.”
In the immediate term, to make life-changing and life-saving drugs available on the NHS, Labour will:
- Actively use voluntary and compulsory licenses to secure affordable generic versions of patented medicines where the patented product cannot be accessed;
- Increase the transparency of medicine prices, the true cost of research and development and pharmaceutical company finances so that the NHS can have informed discussions on drug pricing;
- Resist efforts to increase corporate control over medicine and drug intellectual property rights in future trade deals by excluding provisions that go beyond the TRIPS agreement.
In the longer run, Labour will create a health innovation system that puts public health first by:
- Creating a publicly owned pharmaceutical company to manufacture generic drugs and medicines to sell to the NHS at affordable prices, with any profits reinvested back into the existing network of publicly-funded research and development facilities, used to offset the cost of more expensive drugs or fund non-drug based public health interventions to improve health outcomes;
- Separate innovation from price incentives by replacing the current system – where research and development funding is channelled into the most lucrative and profitable medicines – with a system of innovation funding based on upfront grants or subsidies and funding awards tied to priorities that are most socially valuable and challenging – such as antimicrobial resistance;
- Attach public interest conditions to any public funding for research and development so any organisation receiving taxpayers’ money will need to ensure patient access and affordability, share their knowledge and disclose data on their research and development spending.