Today Times Investigates published an article revealing that the NHS has been charged £1,500 for a single pots of moisturiser that others have sold for less than £2.
The case is among thousands where the NHS appears to have been overcharged for drugs called ‘specials’. These are custom-made for patients who need bespoke versions of treatments (such as ointments) if they struggle to swallow pills.
Yet again we’re seeing the cash-strapped NHS being taken for a ride by pharmaceutical companies.
A recent report that we co-wrote with Global Justice Now – Pills and Profits – looks into another area where tax-payer’s money is being misused by the industry. Our research revealed that last year the NHS spent more than £1 billion on medicines that the public helped to fund. These included treatments for prostate cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
The Labour MP Louise Haigh condemned the “obscene over-charging of our cash-strapped NHS”. She tweeted: “Time for more effective regulation on pharma companies ripping off the taxpayer.” And that’s exactly what we need to do.
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most lucrative and powerful in the world and they put a great deal of money into lobbying governments to get their way. The UK Government, particularly with Brexit looming, are nervous to keep the UK as a key area of investment for the life sciences industry. However, if these favourable conditions – which include a lack of regulation – are putting our national health service at risk then we need to call on the government to get their priorities straight and put people ahead of profit.