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.