Drug firms demand £20bn in extra NHS spending

Pharmaceutical giants could leave UK or delay product launches if funding doesn't increase, warns ABPI

NHS sign outside St Thomas's hospital in London
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Big drug firms could leave the UK or delay product launches unless the NHS gets another £20bn in spending a year, the pharmaceuticals trade body has said.

Lisa Anson, president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), set out the demand in an interview with The Times, saying health spending should rise from the current rate of 9.9 per cent of GDP to the G7 average of 11.3 per cent - around £20bn at current rates.

It amounts to "the first time, the ABPI... has laid out detailed requests for the general election campaign", says the paper.

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It adds: "Without higher health spending, companies would delay launching medicines in Britain as they were unlikely to be approved, she said. Nor would they be able to do clinical trials because they could not evaluate potential new drugs against existing best treatments if UK patients were not getting them."

Anson also warned that Britain risked becoming "a desert for healthcare innovation" and said the industry was "happy to discuss" tax rises to pay for more NHS spending.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, however, said taxes were as high as they could go "and therefore, people who argue for more money have to say where they are going to cut. Without that, we have to view this as special pleading".

But Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, countered that there were "consequences to spending below the average" on health.

Drug companies are currently enjoying rising profits: ABPI member GlaxoSmithKline yesterday announced an increase in first-quarter profits to £2bn on revenues of £7.4bn.

However, several companies, such as Actavis and Pfizer have also been accused of overcharging the NHS for critical and life-saving drugs.

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