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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 February 2014

NHS: Kick out big Pharma

Simon Carter

Last week the Socialist published a feature article on the National Health Service - 'Big Pharma's deadly grip' - which showed how profit hungry multinational drug companies are bleeding the NHS dry.

Now, the Independent has revealed how Big Pharma is capitalising on the government's Health and Social Care Act which has opened up the NHS budget in England for private companies to plunder.

Under the Act while a majority of the NHS budget is handed to GP consortia, who can commission services from 'any willing provider', the remainder is controlled by NHS England.

According to the Independent, NHS England has allowed a lobbying company Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) "working for the world's biggest drugs and medical equipment firms" to produce a report setting out a five-year strategy for commissioning 12 billion of services.

To suggest a possible 'conflict of interest' is a mild understatement. NHS England may as well write a blank cheque now to Big Pharma.

SHCA's director John Murray is also a lobbyist "whose company lists some of the world's biggest drug and medical device firms as clients".

All the costs of SHCA are paid for by 13 drug companies. Secretariat services to SHCA are provided by a lobbying company, JMC partners, whose senior partner is, again, John Murray.

Its clients include multinational drug companies such as Novatis, Astro Zenica, and Pfizer.

JMC boasts of its lobbying claims in which it has targeted MPs and government ministers to ensure market access in the NHS for commercial medical companies.

This latest media investigation confirms the stranglehold of Big Pharma on the NHS.

As the Socialist (issue 797) pointed out, it was recently revealed that giant drug manufacturers were fleecing the NHS of millions of pounds by using a legal loophole in the government's price regulatory scheme by selling marketing rights to smaller companies.

These smaller companies, not governed by the scheme, then set a new price. The cost of one medicine went up 2,400%, literally overnight!

The private companies acting like leeches on the NHS must be removed in order to free up precious resources for healthcare.

We demand an end to big business profiteering. Nationalise the pharmaceutical industry, scrap the rip-off Private Finance Initiative and abolish the Health and Social Care Act. Let's rebuild a fully funded, publicly owned NHS, free at the point of use.

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In The Socialist 12 February 2014:


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Floods misery: Government cuts to blame

What future for Labour and the unions?

Fast food workers want decent pay and conditions

NHS: Kick out big Pharma

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