There has been widespread coverage recently of the outrageous price increases in cancer drugs introduced by some pharmaceutical companies in their dealings with the NHS. Examples quoted have included the cost of tamoxifen (used to combat breast cancer) going up by an increase of over 1000% in 5 years and the cost of bulsufan (used to treat leukaemia) having increased from 21p to £2.61 over the same time period.

The initial research which led to these revelations was undertaken by Dr Andrew Hill, senior research fellow in pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of Liverpool, and Melissa Barber from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to The Times, Dr Hill commented that “the total NHS overspend is …potentially up to £1billion per year.”

The Times has also revealed details of a wider range of drugs affected, highlighting a shocking waste of public money within the NHS. It was found that the NHS was even paying excessively for medication such as painkillers and vitamins.

It appears that some drug companies are manipulating the regulations around generic as opposed to branded medicines, in order to raise prices. The NHS is currently failing to confront the situation effectively, leading to a massive, unnecessary overspend.

And, of course, if the cost of drugs is going up, fewer people are likely to be able to benefit from them.

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