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.

Featured Post

20 Mar
Cancer Drug Profiteering

£99 Cancer Drug Being Sold for £83,000

Shocking new evidence has come to light of massive profiteering from ... More
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
Roger Law
Roger LawFacebook
The government probably make from this that's why they do nothing, it's all about me me me.
Sylvia Handsley
Sylvia HandsleyPetition
I believe it should be stopped and am surprised the governments allow such dishonesty and corruption stop it now!!!!
Maxine Cook
Maxine CookPetition
It is a travesty of humanity to deny people the best shot at survival because keeping them sick pays more.
M Delaney
M DelaneyPetition
It's is completely abhorrent how pharmaceutical companies profiteer from disease, illness and dying.
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.
Chris Wilder
Chris WilderPetition
This is serious and nothing to do with politics, just pure avarice.
Kate Westgate
Kate WestgatePetition
Making huge profits like this is disgusting and immoral!
Donna Lower
Donna LowerFacebook
Disgusting. We pay towards the research and yet when drugs are created then we cant afford to buy them!!!
Shirley Clatworthy
Shirley Clatworthy Facebook
Why is this being allowed to happen - the world is going to pot over money.
Jennifer Bratley
Jennifer BratleyFacebook
Lost for words! Peoples lives are more important than profit, what happened to humanity ?
Lynn Nowne
Lynn NownePetition
It is so wrong to do this to people suffering in this way. Pure greed !!
James Brannan
James BrannanPetition
I totally agree that of course people's lives must come before profits. We can't hold back anything that helps progress towards saving lives.
S Ashton
S AshtonPetition
Despicable profiteering! We understand the need to cover costs of research and development and even some profit....but this is just beyond!
Kerry Lackey
Kerry Lackey
Profit over people's health? What kind of nation are we?!! It's shameful.
Eva Roe
Eva RoePetition
A cure for cancer could be within our grasp if global reforms could be made so that countries research teams could work together.
Kate Hollis
Kate HollisPetition
It is appalling that pharmaceutical companies are profiteering from people's misfortune and it appears from donations for the purpose of cancer research.
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.
Kat Petrovic
Kat PetrovicPetition
It is an outrage that we should have to petition for this. The government and we the people should be ashamed to let this go on.
James Hobson
James HobsonPetition
I think it is diabolical, unfair and a damned disgrace to charge such overinflated prices for medication for people who are in need of this to save their lives. Companies charging such prices should be prosecuted as it's nothing short of robbery and fraud.
Fiona Downs
Fiona DownsPetition
We need to stop people getting rich from others suffering.
Rachel Owen
Rachel OwenPetition
Most of this research is paid for by Cancer Research - money raised by the public, myself included. Why should we raise money only to have it hoarded by drug companies who charge too much. NHS is in crisis! These unfair profit margins and mark ups should be investigated and not be allowed to continue.
Malcolm Wilson
Malcolm WilsonPetition
People need these drugs to save their lives. Whilst I know it costs a lot to design, trial and manufacture, the price you charge is just disgraceful. How about showing a little humanity instead of fleecing dying families??
Susanna Williams
Susanna WilliamsPetition
I am despondent about the race for profits by the pharma industry in seeking new cancer breaking drugs. I also am getting cynical about the UK's cancer charities and ask myself what are they doing with the millions of pounds they attract each year?
Shirley Nye
Shirley NyeFacebook
Bloody criminal, your life is worth nothing today, it's all about the money!!
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.
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
Nick Hughes
Nick HughesPetition
What pharmaceutical companies are allowed to get away with is indescribably wrong. Morally wrong. Ethically wrong and it should be legally impossible to conduct themselves in this cold hearted profiteering lives where so much death can be laid directly at their feet.
Maureen Walker
Maureen WalkerFacebook
Should cap profit and save lives,it makes 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?
Pauline Timms
Pauline TimmsFacebook
This is murder. Both the financial aspect and literally letting people die. Can governments do nothing about this? It is unforgivable.

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