“Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the Off-Patent Drugs Bill [and the related ‘unlock drugs’ campaign by Breast Cancer Now].
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 know the Private Members’ Bill – the Off-Patent Drugs Bill – introduced by my colleague Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, would require the UK Government to seek licences for such off-patent drugs and therefore improve access to low-cost treatments for a range of conditions, including breast cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
I am aware that there was a previous Private Members’ Bill in 2014 which unfortunately the coalition Government did not support when it was debated on 7th November 2014 and, as a result, it did not progress further.
Improving timely access to medicines that can benefit patients is something that we all want to see. The Off-Patent Drugs Bill has yet to be published and I will look at the detail of the legislation. However, I support the principles of the Off-Patent Drugs Bill.
With specific regard to cancer treatment, I also 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.
The Off-Patent Drugs Bill is due to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 6th November 2015. Please be assured I will monitor its progress with interest.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views”.
Private Members Bills often don’t succeed