Millions of people are denied the access to medicines they need because of the high prices set for medicines. STOPAIDS has a history of fighting for and improving patients’ access to affordable medicine. Today, we coordinate the Missing Medicines campaign which aims to tackle high drug prices through strengthening the power of public research and development (R&D) funders and demanding transparency. We also work with the EU Alliance in order to share our learnings and support progress at the European level.

Over the past two years we have published two new reports with our Missing Medicines allies, the first Pills and Profits: How drug companies make a killing out of public research which shows how taxpayers are funding billions of pounds worth of research into life-changing drugs – only to be told they are too expensive when they need them. The second The People’s Prescription: Re-imagining Health Innovation to Deliver Public Value sets out a vision for a health innovation model that is driven by public health need and delivers products at prices that patients and health systems can afford.

We are also involved in the Stop ISDS campaign. The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is an arbitration principle included in free trade agreements that allows private businesses to sue governments for doing anything that might interrupt their ability to make profit – even if that action is to protect public well-being. This effects a huge range of industries, including pharmaceutical corporations. In our People’s Prescription report we talk about the importance for countries to be able to use the TRIPS flexibilities to access more affordable medicines, yet ISDS has allowed corporations to sue governments for doing so.

In 2013 Eli Lilly, a U.S pharma corporation, took Canada to court over their basis for determining a patent’s validity calling it “arbitrary, unfair, unjust, and discriminatory”. The basis already in place was one designed to protect people’s welfare – that a pharmaceutical corporation should be required to verify its promises of a drug’s utility in order to obtain a patent. While in March 2017 the tribunal ruled against the pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly had imposed a heavy, long, and costly legal process on the country.

The Stop ISDS campaign is trying to stop the UK using ISDS in their free trade agreements. You can read more here www.stopisds.org.uk and sign the petition on the website.

Click on the images below to learn more about STOPAIDS’ access to medicines work: