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Big pharma’s rising prices mean doing nothing is not an option

September 30, 2019 / Heidi Chow

Expensive medicines are a growing problem the world over and for too long big pharma has been able to charge extortionate prices, leaving patients struggling to access the treatment they need. The plight of Luis Walker, the 9-year old boy with cystic fibrosis featured in Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Labour party conference yesterday, illustrates how fundamentally broken our system of developing medicines is and why proposals to protect public health and take on the power of pharmaceutical companies are so desperately needed. The drug, Orkambi, can not only alleviate the symptoms of cystic fibrosis but could actually slow the progression of the disease, potentially adding years of life to patients like Luis. But this drug is not available on the NHS in England because it is too expensive. Despite three years of negotiations, drug company Vertex is still refusing to lower its hefty price tag of £105,000. Keeping the price of Orkambi this high is no anomaly. Patent monopolies...