Outrage as minister 'talks out' cheap drugs bill

Written by Tom Freeman on 6 November 2015

The UK Government was faced with outrage from backbenchers today as it killed today's debate on the Off Patent Drugs Bill at Westminster.

The bill, which had been shelved last year after the government said off patent drugs were already available on the NHS across Britain, is designed to allow doctors to prescribe cheaper drugs no longer licensed that have been proven to have additional benefits above their original purpose. 

For example, Bisphosphonates, which were used for years to strengthen bones but have now been shown to cut breast cancer deaths.

The patent on the drug has now expired, meaning it can be produced by any drug company for just 5p.

Today however the Bill was 'talked out' by health minister Alistair Burt, who faced shouts of 'shocking' from backbenchers of all sides. He spoke until 2:30, preventing the bill from clearing its first hurdle.

"No sensible government would seek to resist people's access to drugs in any way, and the reason for resisting is the government believes there is another pathway," he said.

The Conservative Government will now face accusations of pandering to big business, putting the demands of big pharma over the needs of those suffering with cancer. 

SNP Westminster spokeswoman Dr Philipa Whitford, a campaigner on the issue, tweeted: "In the 'Mother of Parliaments' we didn't even get to vote despite massive cross-party support for Off-patent Drugs Bill. Democracy?!"

Unless the Government can make a coherent evidenced case for why using off-patent drugs presents a real danger to health, they appear to be taking a 'profit above people line.'

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