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
Keith Bennett
Keith BennettPetition
Why IS such important work in the hands of private companies ????? Government wastes billions of OUR Money on weapons research, & on propping up corrupt regimes. Can`t WE fund Cancer research & give REAL hope of affordable treatment to seriously ill People?
David Herbert
David HerbertFacebook
Once again the public who donate so selflessly are ripped off - utter greed and our government turn a blind eye.
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?
Den Carter
Den CarterPetition
For too long the drugs industry has held the NHS to ransom. Time this practice ended.....human suffering should not be a commodity to trade in.
Maureen Walker
Maureen WalkerFacebook
Should cap profit and save lives,it makes sense...
Jean Montgomory
Jean MontgomoryFacebook
What's the point of all the research and development if no body can afford to treat patients with the drugs anyway I think the company's would soon lower the prices if every country stopped buying them.
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.
Paul Donnachie
Paul DonnachiePetition
I object to rich companies using patent laws to rip off the sick and dying with high charges.
Chris Wilder
Chris WilderPetition
This is serious and nothing to do with politics, just pure avarice.
Christine Foote
Christine FooteFacebook
Sheer greed! A sad world we live in.
Maureen Henderson
Maureen HendersonPetition
These drugs should be for everyone not just the rich.
Peter Wood
Peter WoodPetition
Drug companies make massive profits out of all their drug manufacturing, its about time all of these companies amalgamated their efforts to eradicate cancer once and for all.Stop looking at the profit margin for cancer drugs, for once please think of what living with cancer is really like. PLEASE. Thank you.
Sandra Sherriff-Meyer
Sandra Sherriff-MeyerPetition
Cancer treatments should be actively researched and made available for all types of cancers, not only those with substantial commercial profit for pharmaceutical companies. Cancer doesn't discriminate. Neither should they.
Wendy Neal
Wendy NealPetition
Its outrageous that cancer patients are suffering because of exorbitant prices of new drugs STOP IT NOW.
Elizabeth Carballo
Elizabeth CarballoPetition
The cost of making the drug does not reflect the price, if it's life saving, let them have it.
Marina Billinge-Jones
Marina Billinge-JonesPetition
I feel this is blackmail. There is no justification for that abuse of power.
Kathleen Barry
Kathleen Barry
This government needs to get it's priorities right! Disgraceful what they are letting these drug companies get away with!
Pauline Wright
Pauline WrightPetition
The profit being made is obscene. How can they put a profit that large on someone's life?
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.
Ann Morgan
Ann MorganPetition
These companies should be ashamed. Profiteering on the misery of others. Its disgusting. You know they would make far more profit if it was affordable for all.
Madeleine Noakes
Madeleine NoakesFacebook
That's why they don't want to find a permanent cure for cancer toooooooo much money in so called cancer drugs.
Wendy McCormack
Wendy McCormackPetition
Healthcare must not be profit driven - that's just immoral.
Heather Turnball
Heather TurnballFacebook
Absolutely disgusting, how do they get away with it?
Shirley Clatworthy
Shirley Clatworthy Facebook
Why is this being allowed to happen - the world is going to pot over money.
Jim Speed
Jim SpeedPetition
Yet another case of "rip off Britain" and the indifference of the good time over paid boys in parliament.
Christine Dunphy
Christine DunphyPetition
Get this changed Cameron. NOW!!!!!
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
Anthony Thomas
Anthony ThomasPetition
Extreme profit from illness is disgusting.
Kevin Maile
Kevin MailePetition
Scandalous.
Kristin Nichols
Kristin Nichols Petition
I couldn't agree more. Cancer is being controlled by money instead of cured by caring for the wellbeing of humans. I have stopped all donation to cancer research until thus changes. I would rather give my time and loving care directly to those in need.

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