Drug firms try to rip off taxpayers, says Matt Hancock - (The Times via NewsPoints Desk)

  • UK's health secretary Matt Hancock said that pharmaceutical companies are trying to "rip off taxpayers" and big business must be more socially responsible, The Times reported.

  • Hancock noted that he is "not going to let big pharmaceutical companies hold the NHS to ransom" as he negotiates over a new deal on drug prices for the health services.

  • He added that Vertex, which makes cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi, was offered by the NHS half a billion pounds over five years, but accused the company of being "engaged in a highly politicised campaign — directly campaigning to MPs to tell the NHS to pay more for an important drug that they are already making a tidy profit on."

  • "I think that they are attempting profiteering off the back of the NHS and they need instead to accept the deal and supply the drug right now," he said.

  • In response, a spokeswoman for Vertex noted that "we fundamentally disagree with the secretary of state for health and social care’s characterisation of our attitude and behaviour."

  • "We have made an offer to NHS England that is the best in the world, for all of our medicines and all patients, and their response has been to offer us a fraction of what other countries pay for our medicine," she said.

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