Notes to editors
1. Getting the Right Medicines? Putting public interests at the heart of health-related research by Anthony Harrison, is available priced £8 from The King's Fund on 020 7307 2591. An executive summary of the report can be downloaded for free from Monday, 15 December.
2. Anthony Harrison is a senior fellow at The King's Fund. He is the author of numerous studies in health care policy, including a critique of publicly funded research, Public Interest, Private Decisions: Health-related research in the UK, published by the King's Fund in 2002.
3. The report shows how the pharmaceutical industry relies on the government and the NHS for:
- Research and development (R&D). The public sector offers support through subsidies or tax breaks to the industry and also carries out and funds medical research on its own account.
- Patents. These offer protection from competition, which creates the conditions within which profits can be made. These profits finance the large-scale R&D that drug development requires.
- Access to NHS patients and facilities. Pharmaceutical companies need NHS patients for trials of drugs, and physicians and researchers, many of whom will be NHS employees, to carry out these trials.
- Medicines control. State regulatory bodies determine what drugs can be sold and under what conditions.
- Price control. In the UK prices are controlled through a voluntary agreement known as the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS). This is deliberately designed to leave companies an adequate profit margin to finance a high level of research, at the cost of increased prices to the NHS.
4. For further information, interviews with the author or review copies, please contact Daniel Reynolds in the King's Fund public affairs office on 020 7307 2581 or 07831 554927.