Pharmaceutical companies’ focus on profit fails to meet the health needs of patients, a new report has claimed.

report published on Monday (15 October) by the University College of London’s (UCL) Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose suggested that the current system for developing medicines prioritises profit above patients’ health needs.

The Pharmacist has contacted the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Company (ABPI) for comment.


Damaging consequences


Director of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose Professor Mariana Mazzucato said the current health innovation system is ‘expensive and unproductive’, requiring a ‘complete transformation’.

She added: ‘We have a situation now where the NHS is a huge buyer of drugs and the UK Government is a significant investor in the development of new treatments, yet big pharmaceutical companies are calling the shots.’

The researchers argued that pharmaceutical companies are driven by profit, incentivising high prices for drugs and delivering short-terms benefits to the stakeholders.

The report said: ‘Our current health innovation system fails to direct innovations towards the greatest health needs and is fraught with inefficiencies: when innovation happens, it happens more slowly and at great cost.

‘The high prices of medicines are causing severe patient access problems worldwide, with damaging consequences for human health and wellbeing.’

 Healthcare think tank the King’s Fund estimated that NHS spending on medicines has almost doubled in six years, from £13bn in 2010/11 to £17.4bn in 2016/17.