[Ip-health] Letter from MSF on drug prices in the FT - Governments must ask for fairer drug prices

Katy Athersuch katy.athersuch at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 02:39:23 PST 2015


 March 1, 2015 11:26 pm
Governments must ask for fairer drug prices

Sir, Researchers at the University of York are right to call for a
reduction in the price pharmaceuticals companies are paid for their
products (“Call to end care that goes against the greater good
February 19). It is not just cancer drugs that are unaffordable; the cost
of fully vaccinating a child is now 68 times more expensive than it was in
For too long, the pharmaceutical industry has been allowed to reap enormous
profits while reinvesting just a fraction of its turnover into research and
development of innovative new drugs. Meanwhile little has been done, for
example, to improve treatments for tuberculosis in the last 50 years,
leaving patients with ineffective treatment regimens with debilitating side
effects. The pharmaceuticals industry also shrouds the prices it charges in
secrecy. Currently, countries such as Morocco and Tunisia pay more for the
pneumococcal vaccine than France does.

Overstretched budgets are forcing health authorities in the UK and
elsewhere to make impossible decisions. In Britain, hepatitis C patients
now face delays in accessing NHS treatment because of the exorbitant price
set by Gilead.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is calling for
greater transparency about drug and vaccine research and development costs,
as well as greater accountability, oversight and intervention from
governments to ensure that pharmaceutical companies do not sell drugs and
vaccines at any price they choose. We are urging GSK and Pfizer to reduce
the pneumococcal vaccine price to $5 per child, inclusive of all three
doses. Such a reduction is possible — the Indian manufacturer Serum
Institute has announced that it plans to sell its version of the vaccine
for $6. If patients are really our primary concern, then governments must
ask for fairer and more transparent drug prices.

*Katy Athersuch*

*Medical Access and Innovation Policy Advisor, *

*Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)*

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