According to a new report from Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), in collaboration with STOPAIDS, Global Justice Now and Just Treatment, the NHS patients are not getting treatments at affordable process and this is a failure on part of the global health innovation system.
The report is titled, “The People’s Prescription: Re-imagining health innovation to deliver public value.” It says that there is a serious hurdle to the health innovation system that is driven by profits. There is little development of drugs and therapies for critical healthcare needs the report says and adds that a major overhaul of the system is needed. Direction as well as rate of innovation is urgent, it says.
On innovation the report explains that at present drug development is short term and involves greater costs and higher risks. It needs to focus on long term research that would probably not yield rapid gains to shareholders but provide critical innovations and advances in healthcare.
The report also states that medicines are coming at higher prices and this can lead to problems of patient accessibility and also damage the total healthcare system. The authors explain that demanding low cost medicines is not the solution but a deeper understanding of how drug advances work is necessary here. It states that corporate governance in medicine advancement is hurting the innovation. The report calls the system “fundamentally broken”.
NHS England for example spent £1bn on medicines last year and drug spending is rising five times the rate of its budget states the report. Priorities must be public health care needs says the report. For example disease like tuberculosis should receive focus when it comes to drug development. Drugs that have received approval in the last few years, state the authors, have provided no additional benefit to the public health.
New drug approval has been compared to the money spent. In the 1950’s the report explains an average of 40 new drugs were work upon using $1bn in research and development. This has come down to 0.65 drugs per $1bn spent in the 21st Century. This means there is a massive decline in investment in new drug development. Most of the pharmaceutical companies are spending the R & D money on short term projects that can provide financial gains in the short term to share holders. No long term benefits to drug innovation are seen consequently.
According to Professor Mariana Mazzucato, “The diagnosis looks bleak for the health innovation system; it’s expensive and unproductive and requires a complete transformation. We have a situation now where the NHS is a huge buyer of drugs and the UK government is a significant investor in the development of new treatments, yet big pharmaceutical companies are calling the shots. In the year of the 70th anniversary of the NHS, this is an ideal time to take stock and rethink the system with a move towards a model that prioritises long-term public value above short-term corporate profits.”
The report urges the government to start procuring affordable generic medicines and make sure companies drop medicine prices to make healthcare more affordable. Further vital and critical medicines should be open to innovation.