Millions of people are missing the medicines they need either because they are too expensive or they simply don’t exist…

Why don’t we have the medicines people need at prices they can afford?

Spiralling drug prices are creating unsustainable pressures on patients and health systems around the world, including the NHS, which is spending more and more on medicines every year. Our health system is forced to ration or reject expensive medicines and patients are increasingly being forced to crowdfund to pay for them or access them on limited compassionate use programmes. 

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world. While big pharmaceutical companies profit from patenting medicines and charging high prices for them, more and more people are having to live without access to affordable drugs both here in the UK and around the world.

This is a huge injustice in itself but is aggravated further by the fact that globally the public are fronting up to two thirds of the research bill for these drugs. Last year the NHS spent over £1 billion on medicines that had been financed with public money.   

With profit as the primary driver, the current health innovation system ratchets up prices but also leads to severe under-investment in less profitable medicines. This explains the lack of new treatments for diseases that affect low and middle income countries, and the crisis arising from the failure to develop new antibiotics.

Furthermore we are not getting the quality of new medicines we need as it is more profitable for pharmaceutical companies to tweak existing medicines than to invest in medicines that truly represent therapeutic advance.

The majority of big pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing, lobbying and buying back their own shares than on research that could help improve and save lives.


  • Harvoni (sofosbuvir-ledipasvir) – A highly effective new cure for hepatitis C, developed with US, EU and UK public funds, was launched in the UK with a list price of £39,000 for a 12 week course. Although approved by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) its high price meant it was previously rationed by the NHS to only the sickest 10,000 patients each year.
  • Orkambi (ivacaftor-lumacaftor) – This cystic fibrosis treatment can give vital additional years of life to patients, but the eye-watering £104,000 price tag has resulted in a stand-off between the NHS and its manufacturer, Vertex, who have rejected deals offered by the health service. Meanwhile patients are dying without access.
  • Deltyba (delamanid) is one of the first two new anti-tuberculosis (TB) compounds to have become available in over four decades. TB is the world’s leading infectious disease killer with over 99% of deaths occur in low and middle income countries. Deltyba costs £1290 per six-month treatment and must be taken with other medicines. . Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates a cost of £759-£3415 per treatment course, without delamanid; adding £1290 for one single component of the regimen is prohibitively high.



TB Patient Story

Now I have accepted that I have to live with MDR TB for almost two years, I try not to stress much! I just want to get ovet it and move on with my life because this disease has stopped my plans of continuing to be involved with my TV commercials and plans I had of travelling to Johannesburg.

Nikiwe Gwebani

23 years old

Access to Insulin

My name is Mbolonzi, and I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes in July 2013 when I was 29 years old. I lost too much weight, my skin had become so dry, I took much water, maybe up to 5 litres in day. I also frequented the washrooms more than ever before and I woke up tired every morning.


31 years old