Drugs firms threaten UK exit unless NHS gets £20bn extra per year

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/drugs-firms-threaten-uk-exit-unless-nhs-gets-16320bn-extra-per-year-10852529">Drugs firms threaten UK exit unless NHS gets £20bn extra per year</a>
 

The pharmaceutical industry has issued a stinging election threat, suggesting firms could withdraw from the UK and delay drug launches unless the NHS gets a huge funding boost.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's (ABPI's) self-styled " manifesto " demands an increase in health spending from 9.9% to 11% of GDP - which amounts to a sum of £20bn a year.

Lisa Anson, the new president of the ABPI and country president of AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN - news) , also suggested the future of the £30bn life sciences sector could be in jeopardy though a senior cabinet minister responded by declaring spending decisions must be made in the national interest rather than those of a single industry.

Ms Anson argued: "This General Election comes at a critical juncture. Do we want to improve NHS patient outcomes and ensure Britain continues to be a global player in Life Sciences, or run the risk of the UK becoming a desert for healthcare innovation?

"Patients and voters will expect each party to set out a clear strategy to address this important issue.

"The new Government should commit to bringing healthcare investment in line with the G7 average in order to deliver the services and outcomes that British patients deserve.

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"Ensuring that the NHS and Life Sciences industry are at the heart of the new industrial strategy, and Brexit negotiations, is also crucial for securing this ambition."

In a separate interview with The Times, she said patients would suffer in an NHS which "rations" treatments while the sector's ability to conduct clinical trials and develop new drugs would be harmed without extra investment.

The NHS sets its spending priorities on a country-by-country basis within the UK - the service often refusing new medicines on cost grounds in favour of money to improve staffing for hospitals and GP surgeries.

The ABPI's other priorities for a new Government included a phased transition to Brexit, with continued access to the best staff.

The Brexit Secretary David Davis later told MPs (BSE: MPSLTD.BO - news) : "We've had pharmaceutical industries relocate here, we've had people like GlaxoSmithKline (Other OTC: GLAXF - news) increase their expenditure here.

"As for the aspect of that attempt by the ABPI, it seemed to be a pressure on the spending of the National Health Service, which is something I think is more for the Health Secretary.

"But I think he will make sensible decisions in the national interest, not in an individual industry's interest."

Labour MP Barry Sheerman told him the industry was expressing concerns about Brexit as well as a lack of resources for the NHS.

A Conservative spokesman told Sky News: "We can only continue to invest in our NHS, and maintain our world-leading position in life sciences, with strong and stable economic leadership - and crucially, both depend on negotiating the good Brexit deal only Theresa May can achieve.

"Our forthcoming industrial strategy will set out how the life sciences sector can improve even further in partnership with the NHS."

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