[Ip-health] Managing IP article reporting on pharma industry negative reactions to the UK Labour Party "Medicines for the Many" plan

James Love james.love at keionline.org
Fri Oct 4 06:59:42 PDT 2019

Overall, Charlotte Kilpatrick provides a laundry list of industry
complaints about the new UK Labour "Medicines for the Many" plan.

I'll just quote a few passages here, and it is better to read this from the
publication's own web page.


Labour forced licensing plan ‘disastrous’ say pharma companies

Published 03 Oct 2019 Last Updated 03 Oct 2019 16:32
Author: Charlotte Kilpatrick

. . .

Innovator and generic pharmaceutical companies say proposals made by the
UK’s Labour Party to bring cheaper medicines to patients under the NHS
would be disastrous for innovation and healthcare.

The Medicines for the Many plan sets out radical new provisions including
the creation of a state-owned generics company and seizure of patents
through forced licensing, in what is known in the UK as ‘crown use’.

. . .

The vice president for IP of an innovator drug company tells Patent
Strategy that Labour’s policy proposals risk sending the wrong signal to
science. “It is incredibly radical what he is announcing. It is the
nationalisation of the pharma industry. Not to be too flippant, but
communism has never been the source of medical advances,” she says.

“We have not found a better way of stimulating innovation than the IP
system we have. Taking something into public ownership rarely stimulates
innovation to meet the unmet medical demands the world is facing.”

She adds that the drug industry wants to work with the NHS to bring
medicines to patients, but that compulsory licences would mean innovator
companies would not have the same incentive to invest the millions of
dollars needed to bring new drugs to markets.

“Labour is citing a rare disease with a medicine that only treats a few
patients. These cases are outliers. The way research is going means it is
challenging to pay for some of the high tech treatments. The industry
acknowledges this and wants to work with the NHS to find solutions,” she

But proponents of Labour’s proposal disagree strongly with this view. James
Love, director of the Washington DC-based think tank Knowledge Ecology
International, who was cited in Labour’s proposal to experiment with
delinkage as an alternative to the patent system, tells Patent Strategy
that a new approach to drug creation is needed.

“Critics of the Labour proposal are fine with patients dying or suffering,
and fine with unequal access to health, and they justify their position by
minimising the extent that access has been limited by high prices, or
pointing to jobs in the pharma sector.”

Richard Torbett, executive director of the Association of the British
Pharmaceutical Industry, also points out that the situation Corbyn cited
with Orkambi is rare, and that a solution needs to be found to make the
medication accessible for patients. But he strongly disagrees with the
stance taken by Labour in their policy proposals.

“Compulsory licensing – the seizure of new research – is not the answer. It
would completely undermine the system for developing new medicines. It
would send a hugely negative signal to British scientists and would
discourage research in a country that wants to be a leader in innovation,”
he says.

 . . .

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British
Industry says Labour’s proposal is a no-win situation if investment and
jobs leave the country as a result of the suggested policy.

“An entire Labour conference passes with no mention of the value business
brings to communities and workers across the UK; the jobs they create, the
people they train, the innovation they deliver. Instead, firms have faced a
volley of attacks on sectors from life sciences to utilities.

“This is desperately disappointing.”

. . .

The most expensive drug on the NHS is Eculizumab, which at £10 million per
patient allows those with a rare blood disease to prolong their lives by 20
years. The drug costs the NHS £82 million a year. While the price tag is
steep, some pharma sources agree more needs to be done to ensure medicines
are cheaper and get to sick patients.

“If I have a child and they are sick and I can’t get their medication, then
yes, I will think the prices being proposed by drug companies are too
expensive. So I can understand why people have that view,” says the IP
director for the UK start-up company.

“The counter argument is there are massive R&D costs that need to be
factored in. The views people take are too simplistic. There are instances
where pharma companies have overcharged but authorities come down on them
like a pile of bricks. The fact that this doesn’t happen too often shows we
are pricing on the right side.”

. . .

Love at the Knowledge Ecology International says: “Nowhere do the industry
critics address the proposal to change the business model, so that
incentives are no longer linked to high prices. It is Labour that is being
innovative here, not the innovative pharma sector lobbyists.”

Flexible models

One proposal outlined in Labour’s Medicine for the Many plan is a revamping
of the incentives used to create new medications in a system known as
delinkage. Rather than using a temporary monopoly model in the form of
patent rights, which result in temporarily high drug prices, governments
would use a combination of very large cash market entry rewards and R&D

Love at Knowledge Ecology International, who was cited in Labour’s proposal
to experiment with delinkage, says: “What Labour is proposing is to ensure
that patients have access, while exploring new ways of rewarding
innovators, so that incentives do not depend upon high prices and unequal

Delinkage has also been proposed by pharma innovators in the past. Speaking
in 2016 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former GSK
CEO Andrew Witty said delinkage means pharma companies would be upfront
about their R&D costs with reimbursement bodies to ensure they have enough
to reinvest in new research.

“That that is something we should really start to explore as an idea. I’m
sure there are 5,000 people who can give me 10,000 reasons we shouldn’t try
it, but they’ll be the same people who told me transparency was a terrible
idea,” he said.

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