In December the drug giant Pfizer was fined £84.2 million by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
It appears that the company made changes to its pricing policy that have ultimately turned out to be less than prudent. Epilepsy tablets that were being charged out at £2 per packet, were hiked up to £67 a packet.
The CMA is an independent body that monitors such things, and earlier in the year (February 2016) fined Glaxo Smith Klein £36 million for similar pricing violations. On that occasion the company were suppressing the entry into the UK of (cheaper) competitive drugs so it could charge the NHS top prices for its own products.
No wonder the NHS is in such a mess, and doesn’t have money to build new hospitals or employ more staff. Your friendly drug companies are making fortunes preying on the sick and needy. There are 48,000 people diagnosed with epilepsy in the UK being prescribed these tablets, containing phenytoin sodium. It was September 2012 when the price was “adjusted” and the NHS bill went up from £2 million to £50 million in one year, and it is suggested it has cost the NHS an extra £194 million over the four year period.
£194 million in the pocket. £84 million fine. I’d live with that.
Pfizer suggests that the CMA doesn’t understand the way drug pricing works, and plan to appeal. I hope the appeal case gets plenty of publicity. Perhaps someone will also ask them why the NHS was paying a higher comparable unit price than other European countries for the same drug.
This is my money, and yours. Our National Health Service is creaking. It is running under severe deficiencies, but that is a bigger picture. Today we look at the way it is being abused by the “Drug barons” who make vast profits for their executives and shareholders.
Where are the NHS accountants, managers, auditors ? How do they let such vast amounts slip out of the pot for such long periods ?
The CMA have stated that Pfizer have “abused their dominant position”. Let’s hope there will be many such investigations and fines in the coming months.
Turmeric strikes again
You will recall a previous post in which I championed the advantages of Turmeric, an ancient Asian remedy. Turmeric contains the compound Curcumin which has inflammation reducing properties.
A relative had a swollen shoulder, and no medically prescribed drug had managed to relieve the problem. On taking some curcumin tablets, within a few days the inflammation and pain had eased. OK, we are early days yet, and the problem is not yet solved. But it is easier to assess and treat the problem without the painful swelling being present
Many modern-day painkillers just mask the issues without getting to the root of the situation.
From there, we ask the question – just how many of today’s drugs that are handed out like sweets actually do what they are supposed to do ?
First thing a doctor does now is reach for the prescription form and start dishing out the tablets, which at prices up to £67 per packet would make the drug companies very happy.
But how many of these cure-all remedies actually work ?
In 2007 the British Medical Journal reported that 7 out of 8 drugs used at that time either didn’t work, or were of limited value. That is an awful lot of wasted resources. So if we move on to 2016 and a drug bill for the NHS of £16 billion, just how much of this is of benefit, and how much could be saved.
There is a current debate about statins. Bad diet is a principal cause of high cholesterol. Instead of educating people about the consequences of eating high fat, high sugar, high preservative foods, doctors take a different route. They prescribe statins.
Statins lower cholesterol. Box ticked.
What it also does is restrict muscle growth. It inhibits an enzyme in the liver, which as well as producing cholesterol, has other functions. So taking statins causes pain in the muscles, headaches and general fatigue (for starters). The patient then has to take more painkillers to combat these debilitating side effects.
Great for the drug companies, but not good for you and me, or the NHS drug bill.
We will leave the Statin debate for another day. Suffice to say a healthy diet consisting of home-produced meals, with an emphasis on plant-based ingredients, would by itself reduce the need for cholesterol lowering drugs.
Unfortunately, for a lot of people, box not yet ticked.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the above. Leave your comments below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.