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Change the pharmaceutical sales model


Youth Stop Aids, Global Justice Now, access to medicines, UK speaking tour, The Treatment Action Campaign Currently the public pay twice – first for the research and then in high prices.

In spite of medical advances, millions of people around the world suffer and die from treatable conditions because they cannot afford to pay for expensive medicine.

Drug companies can charge runaway prices because new drugs are protected by legal monopolies.

This model has made the pharmaceutical industry the most profitable in the world.

The companies justify high prices by claiming they need to recoup their research and development costs.

But nine of the top ten pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than on research and development.

And the majority of innovative early-stage research is actually publicly funded.

It’s time to put people before profit in the global drug industry.

Globally more than 10 million people die every year because they cannot afford the medicines they need.

And even the NHS has had to ration vital medicines because they are so expensive.

Publicly-funded UK research has created some of the biggest medical breakthroughs in decades. But often the research gets bought up by companies who then go on to charge extortionate prices for the resulting medicines.

Thus the public end up paying twice – first for the research and then in high prices; meanwhile companies make eye-watering profits.

Please email your MP and tell them that public medical research should benefit patients rather than lining the pockets of pharmaceutical companies.

Global Justice Now has joined forces with Missing Medicines – a coalition of UK organisations fighting for affordable medicines globally.

Global Justice Now wants conditions on all public health research to make sure the medicines developed are affordable and accessible here in the UK and around the world.

In the early 2000s, for example, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was part of a remarkably effective global movement to radically reduce the prices of key AIDS treatments.

However, while the battle for AIDS treatment was won in South Africa – the wider war for access to medicines has been lost.

Today, new generation antiretrovirals and new medicines to treat hepatitis C, drug-resistant TB, and many cancers are unaffordable for large numbers of people.

TAC considers this state of affairs to be morally unacceptable and is committed to activism that will bring about a more rational and humane policy and legal framework to guide how society pays for existing medicines and for the research and development of new medicines.

In late 2015, the United Nations Secretary General at that time, Ban Ki-Moon, convened a High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines with the aim to “review and assess proposals and recommend solutions to remedy the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies”.

The Treatment Action Campaign made three submissions to the panel – which you can read here, here and here – and supported an additional four submissions made by partner organisations.

The common thread in all these submissions were that the right of people to access medicines should be placed ahead of the private interests of pharmaceutical companies.

And, as shown by a number of submissions, this rebalancing can be done without harming the development of new treatments.

The UN report, which was released in September 2016, makes a number of important recommendations regarding how society pays for medicines and for the research and development of new medicines.

And while TAC welcomes several of the recommendations, it considers they should be viewed as a minimum standard that need to be built upon in order to fully remedy the failures in the current patent system and ensure everyone has access to the medicines they need.

Sibongile Tshabalala, deputy general secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa and Morten Thaysen, campaigner at Global Justice Now, will be speaking about this issue at an event on 8 November in Nottingham organised by Global Justice Now and supported by Youth Stop AIDS.

Tshabalala, Thaysen and other speakers are touring Britain: 31 October in London; 1 November: Reading; 2 November: Leeds; 3 November: Liverpool; 4 November: Bristol; 7 November: Dundee; 8 November: Nottingham; 9 November: Brighton.

To book tickets, click here.

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