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Jonathan Stevenson, media officer
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Reaction to Jeremy Corbyn's Medicines Pledge

WASHINGTON - Health campaigners have reacted to Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement of a range of policies to tackle the failings in the pharmaceutical sector in his speech to the Labour Party conference this afternoon.

Christina Walker, mother to Luis (9) who has cystic fibrosis has been campaigning with Just Treatment for access to a medicine called Orkambi which is currently priced too high for the NHS in England, said:
“My child's future is being put in jeopardy by the behaviour of one pharmaceutical company - Vertex. But it's not the first or the last time that excessive profits have been put above patients’ health, and with 7,000 rare diseases currently without an effective treatment or cure, our situation could be replicated many times over in the future if the government doesn't intervene now. Across the NHS the high price of new medicines is causing huge strain, affecting the lives of patients with conditions ranging from cancer to hepatitis. Most people recognise that major reforms are needed. Quite clearly drugs don't work if patients can't take them. I'm pleased to see that Labour are willing to explore every alternative to tackle this access to medicine crisis. I call on the government and other parties to do the same.”

Heidi Chow, campaigns manager at Global Justice Now said:
"This could be the beginning of the end of Big Pharma’s stranglehold over our medicines. We cannot go on with patients suffering needlessly without vital drugs, as medicine prices skyrocket and the pharmaceutical industry makes billions. This is a global scandal. We are delighted at Labour’s pledge to tackle the broken system for researching and developing medicines head-on. Labour’s policy will put public health before corporate profits and enable people here in the UK and around the world to access the effective treatments they need."

Mike Podmore, director of STOPAIDS, said:
"Big Pharma have ripped off the NHS and patients around the world for years by charging excessive, ever-escalating prices for new medicines. In developing countries, patients either have no access to key drugs or they are so expensive that they are forced to choose between food or medicine. As a result, countless patients have died without access. We therefore hugely welcome Labour’s announcement that they are willing to break Big Pharma’s grip on our health by ensuring that the UK’s model for researching and developing medicines is fit for public health needs, not private wealth. This is essential in the fight to achieve universal health coverage and ending global epidemics, such as AIDS and tuberculosis."

Prof Mariana Mazzucato, Director and Founder of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose said:
“It is welcome that the Labour Party is addressing key failures of the pharmaceutical sector. When the government funds the development of new medicines it must do so in a systematic way to make sure that the benefits reach the patients that need them. Instead, we currently have a system where the risks of innovation are socialised, while the benefits are privatised through dysfunctional uses of intellectual property rights, a financialised business model, and a pricing system that does not recognise taxpayer investment. At the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose we have been working with global leaders, from all sides of the political spectrum, to change this, and are happy that it is becoming central to the Labour Party’s platform.”

Notes

  1. The announcement is supported by the publication of a new Labour policy paper, Medicines for the Many: Transforming health innovation to prioritise public health in the UK and beyond: http://labour.org.uk/medicinesforthemany
  2. Global Justice Now, IIPP, Just Treatment and STOPAIDS released a report, The People’s Prescription, Re-imagining health innovation to deliver public value in October 2018: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/publications/2018/oct/peoples-prescription


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Global Justice Now is a democratic social justice organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.

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