Letters, calls and emails: Drug companies do not need NHS help

Dear Editor

Dr John Sharvill may be on to something when raising the possibility of central funding to solve the problems raised by over-paying for drugs when there are generic drugs in the class (GP, 17 November).  

‘Reference pricing’ has been used to peg reimbursement prices to the cost of the equivalent generic drug in many countries.  

If patients want the on-patent drug they can pay a ‘co-payment’ towards it — few take this up. This would solve the problem of switching at source.  

Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) were also covered in the same issue of GP. These cost around £16,000 each and last seven years. Does it make sense that we pay premium prices for old technology and then struggle to fund new advances like ICDs? Maybe a unified cardiovascular budget would help.  

Paying over the odds won’t stimulate innovation or research any more than motorists making voluntary overpayments for petrol would encourage oil exploration — why bother looking?   

The NHS can’t afford to give hand-outs to businesses that don’t need charity.  

The drugs industry spends up to three times more on marketing than on research and has some of the highest profit margins of any sector.  

It generally does a good job, but our relationship with it must be balanced and healthy.  

Dr Rubin Minhas  

Primary care CHD clinical lead, Medway PCT 

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