Off Patent Drugs Bill December 2015
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the Off-Patent Drugs Bill.
I appreciate the frustration and concern that many people feel about the delays that can occur in accessing new and potentially effective drugs and treatments. I also appreciate that through their 'Unlock Drugs' and previously 'Unlock Lifesaving Drugs' campaigns, Breast Cancer Now continue to raise the issue of how many low cost and potentially effective drugs are being prevented from being made routinely available due to a lack of licensing.
As you may be aware, the Private Members' Bill - the Off-Patent Drugs Bill - introduced by my colleague Nick Thomas-Symonds MP was debated in the House of Commons on Friday 6 November 2015. The Bill would require the Government to seek licences for off-patent drugs and therefore improve access to low-cost treatments for a range of conditions, including breast cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's.
The Government decided to 'filibuster' the Bill - the Minister 'talked out' the Bill, preventing MPs from voting on it.
I am aware that there was a previous Private Members' Bill in 2014 which, similarly, the Coalition Government did not support when it was debated.
With specific regard to cancer treatment, I believe we need to ensure that people have access to a wide range of treatments including drugs, radiotherapy and surgery, and that patients get tested quickly if cancer is suspected. At the 2015 General Election I stood on a manifesto which included commitments to improve early cancer diagnosis, speed up waiting times for cancer test results and create a new Cancer Treatments Fund so that patients have access to the latest drugs, surgery and radiotherapy.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for highlighting your views about this Bill.