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GSK's Witty: UK Delaying New Cancer Drugs Due to Cost

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By Alexander Gaffney

Andrew Witty, the chief executive of pharmaceutical manufacturer GlakoSmithKline, said in an interview with the BBC on 25 February he believes the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is purposefully delaying new drugs in order to save the government money.

It’s bad enough that reimbursement amounts are being systematically reduced across Europe, said Witty, “but governments are now delaying the approval of innovative new drugs.”

Witty cited “oncology drugs being systemically delayed” as a prominent instance of government delaying innovative new drugs.

“So, a second way to save money—they think—is ‘let’s just not buy the second round of innovation.’”

“If you’re a Minister,” admitted Witty, “It’s a lot easier to cut drug prices than it is to close a hospital.”

Witty’s remarks were mirrored by Prostate Cancer Charity head Jonathan Waxman, who also is a professor at the Imperial College of London.

"We are going to have a situation in the UK where drugs are not available for our patients. It is a disaster. Someone just needs to sort this out," said Waxman.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health fired back in remarks to The Guardian, noting that the agency has increased healthcare expenditures.

"The government has not changed any assessment processes relating to cancer drugs,” said the spokesperson.

"Furthermore, drug companies need to look hard at the high costs they are asking of the health service for their latest treatments."


Read more:

BBC - Ministers deny GlaxoSmithKline claims of drug delays

The Guardian - Government accused of blocking new cancer drugs to save money




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