Or, perhaps, the Guardian is written by the ignorant, your call.
So, we’ve a screed from a GP about how appalling it would be if we replaced the National Health service with American style health care. OK, good so far, that American system is about the only one which is worse than the current NHS. After that it all rather falls apart though:
As a GP working in London, it is not uncommon for me to hear people say they can’t afford prescription charges, or that they don’t have the money to buy their medication until they get paid at the end of the month. Some drugs are so expensive they are wholly out of people’s reach. “But if this is such an effective treatment, why isn’t it available free on the NHS?”, patients ask me.
Well, drugs that are effective are on the NHS. And the maximum prescription cost for a year is £110. For all drugs, everything. The effectiveness is ensured by NICE, which won’t pay for a drug that is more expensive than the value gained from taking it. That is, drugs which aren’t either free or on prescription aren’t worth it – aren’t effective.
Even Polly Toynbee gets this so someone clever like a doctor should be able to grasp it.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Progressive reform of the dysfunctional relationship between the state and the pharmaceutical industry is possible. But it requires the vision and political will to prioritise public health over private profit.
Labour recently announced plans to scrap prescription charges in England, bringing policy in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They have also announced plans to create a publicly owned drugs manufacturer, to supply cheaper medicines to the NHS. As a doctor, I welcome these plans that will put an end to difficult conversations with patients about whether they can afford to pay for their health.
And a publicly owned manufacturer isn’t going to make any difference. Because the problem isn’t with manufacturing cost. It’s with patents.
So, the whole thing is nonsense anyway. But then we come to this:
The US pharmaceutical industry is intent on making this happen. In the last two years alone they have collectively spent over half a billion dollars on lobbying ministers – and it appears to be working. In addition to the six official meetings between senior UK civil servants and their US counterparts, there have been five meetings behind closed doors with representatives of US pharmaceutical corporations to discuss drug pricing.
Half a billion bucks, eh? Truly, this is written by the insane or ignorant. Even, insanely ignorant. And, of course, it’s worse. At least two levels of editors at The Guardian have read through this and thought yup, that’s just fine.
Sure, we’re all proud of how money isn’t the only determinant in British politics but really. Half a billion – $500,000,000 – would buy the entire House of Commons let alone the Cabinet. Damn, the ex-Deputy Prime Minister is only costing Facebook a million a year.
Ameen Kamlana is a GP in east London and an NHS activist
You’d really look forward to checking the dose from a GP who can be out by three orders of magnitude, wouldn’t you?
As to where the half billion comes from:
Hence Mr Corbyn’s claim: “Remember Boris Johnson’s famous promise of £350 million a week for the NHS? Well his toxic Brexit trade deal with Trump could hand over £500 million a week of NHS money to big drugs corporations.”
Sure, it’s Jezza and making a claim in an election period and all that. But it’s lobbying for, not with, all the same.