Cancer Cures Held Back By Pursuit of Profit

The development of affordable and long lasting treatments for cancer is being held back by a need to satisfy the ambitious commercial objectives of the pharmaceutical industry, which are often at odds with the needs of patients. This has led to exorbitant pricing for new drugs, a failure to invest in promising discoveries that have limited commercial benefits and a drip-feed of new drugs of marginal therapeutic benefit rather than genuine breakthroughs for patients.

Our goal may be to beat cancer sooner but the current profit-led R&D system is geared to beat cancer later, as that's more beneficial for the drug companies who we depend on to turn cancer research into new medicines. We desperately need the R&D system to be reformed, so that it focuses on maximising benefits for patients rather than maximising profits.

In October 2014, Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research and one of the world’s leading experts in cancer drug discovery, told the World Oncology Forum that “the global system for discovering new cancer drugs is broken and failing to turn scientific advances into enough innovative new medicines”.

In September 2015, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe concluded that conflicts of interest between profits and public health within the pharmaceutical industry have led to a lack of new drugs of real therapeutic benefit in recent years and shocking levels of profiteering. Backed by the UK, it voted overwhelmingly in favour of a European-wide Resolution to tackle the issue.

In March 2016, Sir Richard Thompson, the Queen’s personal doctor for 21 years and a former-president of the Royal College of Physicians, warned that drug companies are developing medicines they can profit from, rather than those which are likely to be the most beneficial and he accused the NHS of failing to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies.

It is madness that governments are allowing cancer to be commercially exploited given the scale of suffering and death, and a kick in the teeth for all those who help by donating money to cancer research. We need to stop treating cancer like a money-making opportunity and start treating it like the humanitarian crisis it is.

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Facts and Figures

  • Annual cancer deaths - 9 million
  • Annual cancer drug sales - £75bn
  • Top Selling Cancer Drug 2015 - £5.2bn
  • Average Drug Firm Profit Margin - >20%
  • Avg. New Cancer Drug Adds - 2.7 Mths
  • New Cancer Drug Patents - 20 Yrs
  • Off-Patent Drug Prices - 78% LESS
  • Normal NHS Drug Price Cap - £30k/yr
  • Cancer Drugs NHS Can't Afford - 49%
See our Key Facts page for more detail.

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Changes We Want To See

CampaignTShirtOverhaul Cancer Drug Development

We are campaigning for the UK Government to tackle failures in the system for developing cancer drugs that have led to:
  • profiteering - a failure to curb excessive profit margins on drug prices, leading to drugs being priced out of reach of patients;
  • missed opportunities - a failure to attract investment in promising discoveries with limited commercial potential, or to provide alternative public funding;
  • ineffective drugs - a failure to reward development of drugs with greater therapeutic benefit, in order to speed up progress.
All of these issues have arisen due to the conflicting needs of the pharmaceutical industry, which we rely on to develop cures, and the patients who need them - put simply, wealth vs health.

We are calling on the UK Government to:
  • acknowledge the conflicting goals of those developing cancer drugs and those who need them
  • better regulate the pharmaceutical industry to protect cancer patients' interests
  • ensure that cancer drug prices reflect costs and the public contribution to their discovery
  • find ways to reduce the costs of bringing new cancer drugs to market to ease prices
  • publicly fund promising cancer treatments that fail to attract private investment
  • work with the World Health Organisation to consider alternative drug development models
  • to work with other countries to agree a goal and timeframe to cure the majority of cancers
Comments from Supporters
These are a selection comments from people supporting the campaign.  Help us tell those in Government that this is an issue that people care about, which is costing lives and causing unnecessary suffering: Sign the Petition Now
Kim Manister
Kim ManisterPetition
I have lost so many of my family to this awful disease and watched them suffer. If there is anything that helps to ease their pain lengthen our time with them, I don't understand why people would make so much money out of this medicine, there is no value on a person's life.
Chris Phillips
Chris PhillipsFacebook
People give freely to these charities to help with research and development, so that it can help people with this awful illness. It makes me so cross that the money grabbing CEO's of the drug companies, think they can charge thousands of pounds so that their shareholders and their company can line their pockets at the expense of the suffering.
Lucy Munro-Turner
Lucy Munro-TurnerPetition
Keeping people Ill and subjecting them to outrageously expensive and damaging 'treatments' is big business. It's so wrong in every sense.
Kenneth Gray
Kenneth GrayPetition
Corporate greed over people, when are all MP's going to do their job and put a stop to this extortion of the ill and dying?
Dawn Woodhams
Dawn WoodhamsPetition
I have lost 3 immediate family members to cancer and to learn this makes me so mad...Total greed the scourge of our time now....
Richard Pink
Richard PinkPetition
This type of profiteering is a disgrace time to nationalise all pharmaceutical companies health is not a luxury its a human right.
John Spence
John SpencePetition
This is criminal and should be rectified immediately.
Shirley Clatworthy
Shirley Clatworthy Facebook
Why is this being allowed to happen - the world is going to pot over money.
Joanne Allman
Joanne AllmanPetition
The elephant in the room is the egregious conflict of interest between health and profit which has driven the development of ever more expensive, toxic drugs to the exclusion of more natural and affordable approaches.
M Delaney
M DelaneyPetition
It's is completely abhorrent how pharmaceutical companies profiteer from disease, illness and dying.
Louise Cartwright
Louise CartwrightPetition
You can't put a price on someone's life. A few extra years could mean that they could watch a child grow, get married, meet a grandchild, and lots more.
Danny Baverstock
Danny BaverstockPetition
Would the profiteers feel that the paper in their wallet meant anything if they themselves were at deaths door, dying from the very thing they once had the power to cure?
Mary Stewart
Mary StewartPetition
People are dying horrible deaths, so a few can make a great deal,and the worse thing is these greedy people are already stinking rich.
Carole Core
Carole CorePetition
When we support cancer are doing just that - not for any other reason than to find cures and make our loved ones better.  Forget the profiteering that may be in involve - i's not for them we do it.
Jenny Cassidy
Jenny CassidyPetition
I'm outraged at the amount of money given to cancer research over the many years only to be told the drugs that can cure or help are too expensive for me to have...
Avril Williams
Avril WilliamsFacebook
I lost my dad 20yrs ago and my brother 3 yrs ago and now I'm going through it makes me so sick its all about money.
Ann Abbott
Ann AbbottFacebook
Abuse of those of us who do what we can to support charities whose money funds the research that is supposed to help those suffering.
Jim Speed
Jim SpeedPetition
Yet another case of "rip off Britain" and the indifference of the good time over paid boys in parliament.
Anne Murphy
Anne MurphyPetition
The whole country raises millions of pounds every year. Put it to the use that us as fund raiser's expect it to go to. When we walk/run etc for hours sometimes through the night. We do it for a cure & to help our loved ones.
Deb Parsons
Deb ParsonsPetition
It is essential to raise public awareness and to insist that the government act to enable life saving drugs to be affordable and available
Lynn Capon
Lynn CaponPetition
Money before lives? My god, we have lost the plot haven't we. Makes me soooooo angry.
Rona Cornwall
Rona CornwallPetition
I have always thought that the pharmaceutical industry was ripping us off and think it is disgraceful towards the human race.
Bob Newman
Bob NewmanFacebook
Research takes a large amount of money but it is immoral to charge extortionate amounts such as this. The bosses of these Corporations need taking down a peg or two. Profits are fine but these percentages are ridiculous!
Lorna Cooke
Lorna CookeFacebook
This is disgusting the Government needs to make a stand!!
Catherine Davis
Catherine DavisPetition
Make the industry back off. Stop this behaviour now. It is stealing our loved ones. Please I beg you with all of me to put a stop to this.
Marion Ryan
Marion RyanPetition
While cancer patients continue accepting and taking these useless drugs , no cures will be found...why would there!!
Diane Griffiths
Diane GriffithsFacebook
This is so wrong in many ways...we know they keep researching new drugs and this needs funding but this sort off profit is obscene
Alice Herron
Alice HerronFacebook
This is shocking this is extortion and all should be named and shamed. Research is paid for by us all . The money we give to charity and the millions left by individuals for cancer research so anyone unfortunate enough to need these drugs should receive this treatment free always. We give billions of pounds to cancer research every year lets not forget this.
Jayne Dentith
Jayne DentithPetition
I'm having cancer treatment but also work for the nhs so am fully aware of the dirty tactics used by drug companies to make profits which will inevitably bring our beloved nhs system to its knees.
Roger Law
Roger LawFacebook
The government probably make from this that's why they do nothing, it's all about me me me.

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