Medicine Prices Article in Guardian

Drug companies have been accused of profiteering by raising the prices of out-of-patent cancer medicines that cost just pence to make, inflating the bills of the cash-strapped NHS by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Academics say the prices of 14 cancer drugs have increased by between 100% and nearly 1,000% over the past five years in the UK. These are all generic drugs where the patent has expired, which means they can be made for little more than the cost of the raw ingredients.

But, say experts who presented their findings at the European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam, generic drug companies have been price-gouging, just as Turing Pharmaceuticals was found to have done in the US with Daraprim, a 70-year-old drug used in Aids treatment. The price rose from $13.50 to $750 to universal outrage and became an issue in the presidential election. Turing CEO Martin Shkreli was dubbed the most hated man in America.

14 Replies

  • I saw that article.

    Since the government has apparently done nothing about the problem I assume they don't intend to close the loophole about generic drugs. I'm sure that plenty of rich and powerful people are benefiting.

  • Perhaps the rich & powerful relatives of the ministers, or whoever in Whitehall chooses which companies to buy from?

    I told a Greek pharmacist what our NHS pays for 100 T3, & the response was something like the old Smash aliens advert!

  • Leverette,

    Whereas UK doctors and pharmacists are struck dumb when they're told how little Greek and Turkish T3 costs :O

  • Isn't the next most expensive to here, only £27 for 100?

    Crazy, in a VERY bad way!

  • I think you'll find 100 tablets of Pfizer Cytomel 25 mcg are around $70 to $130 dollars in the USA as a precribed medicine.

    Trouble is, I can't make head-nor-tail of the complex copay and coupon systems that make big differences to the cash handed over at the till!

  • I was only thinking of Europe. The US health insurance system seems to be a rip off, from what I can gather.

    I find 25mcg of UniPharma to be weak, but it's cheap enough to take 3.

  • I agree with humanbean. We also know about Amdipharm and T3 and probably other companies doing it too. It sometimes seems that it is a deliberate ploy to keep us unwell in order that doctor prescribes for the symptom but patient doesn't improve. Also we know that some Big Pharma companies pay 'monies' in order to promote their products. So their coffers increase whilst patient is taking several different medications for several different diagnosis.

  • Thank goodness someone is suggesting the NHS negotiating and buying teams have some responsibility for allowing the NHS to be rooked by unscrupulous and greedy companies.

  • Yes something needs to be done. I was overjoyed when at long last the NHS realised they were paying too much for T3 but what did they do, stopped it being as readily available. I would have felt better if more pressure had been put on the supplier. Ok they may have failed but at least we would have known they had tried.

  • I had always thought that a purchasing managers job was to get the best deal!!! So what is happening in NHS? Do they no longer employ purchasing managers or do the PMs not care that they are squandering our taxes. I think the whole thing is outrageous and should have been dealt with a long time ago. No doubt some of these people even get gongs in Her Majesties honours lists! If people on here can buy T3 abroad for 3Euros why are PMs happy to pay £270 for a pack?

    Maybe we should all write to our MP's to raise the profile of this issue. I know that there have been exposes in newspapers already, maybe things are happening behind the scenes. Let's hope so.

    Rant over!

  • I simply do not understand the medicine procurement system.

    Clearly there are all sorts of rules and regulations regarding branded medicines. Clearly these companies are playing with the official Drug Tarriff system. But is this because someone isn't doing their job, or because the rules and regulations don't give them the powers they would need?

    The relatively recent changes which were heralded as dealing with the issue have obviously not been applied across the board. And it is not clear what will happen.

  • No, no MPs or friends of MPs are on the board of the drug companies, or the procurement teams. No, no, no, could not happen. Oh. (rude word)

  • Outrageous ,surely why can't the BBC get the facts out , alone could assist in informing the public of how their tax money is being wasted.

    Is there anyone out there!!!

  • The BBC relies on the government for funding and they have been threatened with losing the license fee altogether on many occasions.

    They tend not to be controversial any more, and they almost never challenge the government. They've become a bunch of craven poodles, doing what the master tells them to.

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