Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has slammed the Health Secretary for “having a tantrum” following a heated exchange in the Commons, when the Cambridge MP demanded transparency on public money spent on medicines.
In a discussion about the licensing and pricing of Orkambi, a new drug to treat Cystic Fibrosis which has just been introduced on the NHS, Mr Zeichner grilled the Health Secretary, asking him: “The system did finally work, but did it not take far too long, and is it not time to introduce transparency into this opaque system, particularly when the Americans are waiting to pounce on our pharmaceutical industry?“
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, retorted: “Transparency over pharmaceutical pricing would not benefit this country at all because we get the best deals in the world because we can keep them confidential, so it is a slight surprise to hear a Labour Member argue for what would effectively lead to higher prices for drugs in the NHS. Instead, we will protect the NHS.“
Mr Zeichner comments: “The Health Secretary’s response was revealing – I clearly touched a nerve. The Conservatives may like to do deals behind the scenes with public money, but I think the £18 billion of public funds for the NHS that we spend on medicines deserves scrutiny.”
“Medicines pricing is opaque and complicated – but what we know is that in any future trade negotiations with the USA, Trump is determined to get more money out of the NHS for American pharmaceutical companies. Our current system is effective, if opaque, but will only be defended with better public understanding of how our money is being spent.“