Profit shouldn't come before the right to health

Anne, in Scotland, is a patient leader with Just Treatment.

Anne profile.jpg

Anne Maclean-Chang

Just Treatment patient leader, Scotland

I celebrate my 50th birthday in October. The week after I will receive my 50th infusion of Kadcyla for Metastatic Breast Cancer. Had Roche not finally lowered the price of this drug, after a long public campaign, to a level that allowed the Scottish Medicine Consortium to agree to its use in Scotland then it is unlikely I would have been able to access this optimal treatment.

I currently have no evidence of cancer and have had a good quality of life these past three years since I was diagnosed with spread to my liver. I have been able to be “Mum” to my 10 and 8 year old sons, appreciating the small milestones in their life whilst my husband retrains full time as a GP. I would like people like nine year old Luis, who currently can’t access the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi because of its high price, to have a similar chance of a better quality of life.

While diseases like cystic fibrosis and Metastatic Breast Cancer remain incurable, drugs like Orkambi can greatly improve patients’ quality of life. So why is it that in 2019 we often cannot access these drugs? By putting sky-high prices on drugs which restrict who can and cannot access them, big pharma are playing God. The pharmaceutical companies are putting monetary gain before people’s health, prepared to keep shareholders and CEOs happy rather than improve the lives of children like Luis.

By putting sky-high prices on drugs which restrict who can and cannot access them, big pharma are playing God

Serious illnesses such as these affect not only the patient but their families and friends, impacting on schooling, work and psychosocial well-being. Reducing the massive profits that pharma companies make even after investment in research and development could make these drugs more affordable and in turn improve the quality of life for thousands of people. Demands on the healthcare providers may decrease as access to these drugs would mean fewer stays in hospital. It would also increase the likelihood of kids like Luis being able to attain an education, maintain paid employment later in life and above all recognise their worth in the world. How good that would be for all of us. It’s high time we started to put people before profit and made sure patients get the treatment they need.

Elizabeth Baines