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
Bev Christopher
Bev ChristopherFacebook
Where is the legislation that curbs this profiteering. Shouldn't governments intervene to save all the suffering ??
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?
Conor O'Brien
Conor O'BrienPetition
Corporate genocide, absolute disgrace that this can happen.
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!
Christine Dunphy
Christine DunphyPetition
Get this changed Cameron. NOW!!!!!
Maureen Walker
Maureen WalkerFacebook
Should cap profit and save lives,it makes sense...
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.
Jim Speed
Jim SpeedPetition
Yet another case of "rip off Britain" and the indifference of the good time over paid boys in parliament.
Cathy Gouge
Cathy GougeFacebook
Why are these companies allowed to make disgusting profits? Massive wealth should not be made through illness.
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.
John Spence
John SpencePetition
This is criminal and should be rectified immediately.
Kerry Lackey
Kerry Lackey
Profit over people's health? What kind of nation are we?!! It's shameful.
Clive Nicholas
Clive NicholasPetition
The market is not sufficiently capable of rewarding cure or preventative treatments as well as life sustaining drugs.
Carole Accorsini
Carole AccorsiniFacebook
This is absolutely criminal! There must be a law against excessive profiteering, similar to the monopoly laws?! If not then there should be, and quickly, to save many more people dying unnecessarily!
Sylvia Handsley
Sylvia HandsleyPetition
I believe it should be stopped and am surprised the governments allow such dishonesty and corruption stop it now!!!!
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.
Jennifer Bratley
Jennifer BratleyFacebook
Lost for words! Peoples lives are more important than profit, what happened to humanity ?
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.
Yvonne Kirkham
Yvonne KirkhamFacebook
Cancer research has contributed towards how these drug companies find the solution. The price is their snub to the sufferers.
Rachel Adams
Rachel AdamsPetition
It is diabolical that big pharma is profiteering on the back the pain, misery and death of cancer victims and their loved ones. Anyone complicit in this process does not belong in public office. Prove your worth and stop this hideous practice before more lives are ended prematurely and in agony.
Wendy McCormack
Wendy McCormackPetition
Healthcare must not be profit driven - that's just immoral.
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.
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.
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.
Louise Crawley
Louise CrawleyPetition
Disgusting that there are people benefiting out of peoples misery with cancer. It is an evil evil thing. My mum is going through it now and I would give every inch of my being if it meant helping her get better.
Nita Snowden
Nita SnowdenPetition
This is SO wrong!!
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.
Donna Lower
Donna LowerFacebook
Disgusting. We pay towards the research and yet when drugs are created then we cant afford to buy them!!!
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.
Yve Collins
Yve CollinsPetition
A cure needs to be found that is effective, not one created for profit.

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