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
Julie Tack
Julie TackFacebook
This is disgusting.
Neil Hunter
Neil HunterPetition
This is completely immoral & needs sorting out, just like a lot more of the global corruption condoned by governments.
Yve Collins
Yve CollinsPetition
A cure needs to be found that is effective, not one created for profit.
Jennifer Bratley
Jennifer BratleyFacebook
Lost for words! Peoples lives are more important than profit, what happened to humanity ?
Kate Westgate
Kate WestgatePetition
Making huge profits like this is disgusting and immoral!
Carol Rafferty
Carol RaffertyFacebook
Absolutely disgraceful, shame on this government.
Robert Deakin
Robert DeakinPetition
Its totally immoral to make these drugs so unaffordable to the masses. I'm all for researchers and companies to make a good living from developing drugs to fight diseases like cancer, but how can you justify holding the NHS to ransom to purely make immensely, excessive profits? No justification at all.
Chris Wilder
Chris WilderPetition
This is serious and nothing to do with politics, just pure avarice.
Bev Christopher
Bev ChristopherFacebook
Where is the legislation that curbs this profiteering. Shouldn't governments intervene to save all the suffering ??
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....
Wendy Harrison
Wendy HarrisonPetition
My son died of cancer at the age of 25. He was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma when he was 22. His chemo was so harsh but he endured it because he wanted to live, It is immoral to make such a huge profit at the cost of lives. It must be stopped.
John Spence
John SpencePetition
This is criminal and should be rectified immediately.
Julia Neal
Julia NealPetition
It's one thing to cover the cost of development and make a reasonable profit, but it's quite another to make treatment out of the reach of millions when the cost is so little.
Shirley Nye
Shirley NyeFacebook
Bloody criminal, your life is worth nothing today, it's all about the money!!
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.
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?
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
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??
Gloria Brady
Gloria BradyFacebook
It's a pity the EU don't get to grips with this serious situation instead of passing stupid laws on what we eat and what size it should be.
Lorna Boyes
Lorna BoyesPetition
It is a disgrace that this is happening. Our health is paramount, if it was up to the people of this country, we would do all we can to do the right thing.
Clive Nicholas
Clive NicholasPetition
The market is not sufficiently capable of rewarding cure or preventative treatments as well as life sustaining drugs.
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.
Kathleen Barry
Kathleen Barry
This government needs to get it's priorities right! Disgraceful what they are letting these drug companies get away with!
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.
Michelle McIntosh
Michelle McIntoshPetition
People profiteering and living the life of luxury, from the devastating illness of another human being is inhumane, degrading,selfish and disgusting.
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.
Yvonne Kirkham
Yvonne KirkhamFacebook
Cancer research has contributed towards how these drug companies find the solution. The price is their snub to the sufferers.
Jim Speed
Jim SpeedPetition
Yet another case of "rip off Britain" and the indifference of the good time over paid boys in parliament.
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.
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.

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