I appreciate concerns about the cost of many pharmaceutical products to the NHS, and I believe it is important that the NHS pay a fair price for the medicines it uses. We must not tolerate exploitation of the NHS by pharmaceutical companies, since this behaviour leaves the NHS with less money to spend on patient care.
Nonetheless, it is important that the right balance is struck, so that prices and regulations relating to pharmaceutical drugs do not compromise the vital and often ground-breaking research that pharmaceutical companies conduct. The NHS and pharmaceutical companies should, and I believe can, work co-operatively to bring about better care for all.
The UK Government has taken action to ensure that the NHS gets a fair price for medicines, having legislated to ensure that high prices of generic medicines can be better controlled, and requested that the Competition and Markets Authority urgently investigate whether some companies are exploiting the NHS through high prices. Companies that have been found to be over-charging have been fined by the Competition and Markets Authority.
In Scotland, healthcare is a devolved issue, and so responsibility for NHS procurement here rests ultimately with the Scottish Government. I hope that the Scottish Government will follow the UK Government’s lead, act to ensure that NHS Scotland is not getting exploited by unscrupulous companies, and make sure that Scotland does not get left behind the rest of the UK in this regard