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Labour pledges to create state-owned generics manufacturers

Jeremy Corbyn: These companies would save our health service money and save lives
Jeremy Corbyn: These companies would save our health service money and save lives

The Labour party has announced plans to create state-owned generics manufacturers to sell medicines to the NHS at “affordable” prices.

If Labour won the election, it would set up these companies to save “our health service money and save lives”, leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed at his party’s conference in Brighton yesterday (September 24).

Expanding on the concept in its ‘Medicines for the many’ document – which it described as a “radical programme of reforms” – Labour suggested that these “democratically controlled” manufacturers could focus on producing generic medicines that are facing “price or supply issues”.

Any profits earned from these companies would be “reinvested into the existing network of publicly-funded research and development facilities” and used to offset the cost of medicines that are more expensive to produce, it added in the document.

It alluded to “successful examples of publicly owned pharmaceutical companies that produce both originator and generic medicines”.

“Improve access to medicines”

Labour pledged to keep medicine prices low by “actively using voluntary and compulsory licensing to secure affordable generic versions of patented medicines where the patented product cannot be accessed”.

It would also “make public funding for research conditional on the resultant drugs being priced affordably for all”, it said.

“The most sustainable way to keep drug prices down” is through competition, Labour explained. But if the supply of generic medicines does not meet demand, “prices can escalate as buyers try to access reduced stocks”.

“Pharmacies in England have struggled to source vital medicines and have been forced to pay higher-than-expected prices,” it added in the document, pointing to NHS England estimates that these price increases cost the health service around £362 million in 2017-18 alone.

Generics manufacturers’ view

Commenting on Labour’s radical promises, Warwick Smith, director general of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), claimed that competition is “the bedrock of the current UK generic medicines system” and saves the NHS more than £13 billion a year.

“We note the reference made in the Labour leader’s speech to creating a publicly owned generic medicines manufacturing company and would welcome more detail on what he proposes,” Mr Smith told C+D.

At the conference, Labour also set out plans to scrap prescription fees in England.

16 Comments
Question: 
What do you think of Labour's plans?

Graham Jones, Community pharmacist

soviet tractor planning production....

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

The thumbs down here without any explanation from Corbyn supporters as to why this isn't a shite idea is EXACLTY what I'd expect from that group of voters.

Daniel McNulty, Superintendent Pharmacist

28 % of  the cost of medicines in the UK are generic - 72% are patented.

The UK has the lowest cost or close to lowest cost generic prices in Europe.

What problem would this magical company solve?

https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Investigation-into-NHS-spending-on-generic-medicines-in-primary-care.pdf

https://www.oxera.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Oxera-study-on-the-supply-of-generic-medicines-in-the-UK-26-June-2019.pdf

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

Communistic Agenda....blah blah blah....what a waste of tax payers monies it would be nothing but more expensive then the present model....next it'll be central distribution....the only real difference between the Mafia and Government would be a dicki-bow.....how ridiculous !!!!

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Producing medicines that are facing "price or supply issues"?  I assume that Labour has a crystal ball that will be able to tell well in advance which medicines are needed as it will take time to source ingredients, produce said medicines and get them passed through quality control. 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

And what about the people who work at non-state owned generic manufacturers? Where do they go because presumably the proposed state owned company would not be as big nor employ as many people as all of the private generic companies rolled up into one. This sounds like the typical socialist soundbite rubbish to me.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Indeed.......

R A, Community pharmacist

Corbyn was always fairly nostalgic of USSR so it makes sense he wants to set up state run organisations! 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

If at all this is feasible, then this is a great idea. Fix a definite margin on all medicines and then distribute monthly on a ordeer basis. So this way the smaller Pharmacies need not get bullied by any wholesalers and buy exactly what they without losing the profit margin. And, there won't be any DND list, if it exists then all products not supplied by Govt should go in that list.

This way the DT would be more simpler and the vertcally integrated companies will leran the lesson.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

DND list?

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Discount Not Deducted = DND. Got it?? No? Oh sorry forgot that you don't care what contractros lose, as long as you get your rates.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Little bit harsh, Mr 'Advisor'. Try working instead of advising.

Caroline - you probably know it as the ZD list. N.O. is probably one of these young ones fresh out of college who thinks they know everything there is to know. Don't worry, He (confident it's male) will learn.

C A, Community pharmacist

There's a new name for ZD? 

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Yes, it's called 'Discount not deducted' rather than 'zero discount'. Porbably a way for them to get more money off us for wrong endorsements.

C A, Community pharmacist

Thanks Lucky, had totally missed that change :thumbsup:

Leon The Apothecary, Student

If it is state-owned. Make it not-for-profit? If it's trying to keep prices low, it shouldn't be making a profit. 

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