Tory health minister deliberately blocks law to give NHS cheap drugs when patents expire

Benefit tales

Alistair Burt denied accusations that the parliamentary manoeuvre was ‘disgraceful’

A Conservative health minister has deliberately blocked a new law to provide cheap and effective drugs for the NHS by championing medicines whose patents have expired. Alistair Burt spoke for nearly half an hour to “filibuster” the proposed Off-Patent Drugs Bill, a plan that had cross-party support from backbenchers.

Because the proposed law is not supported by the Government it only has a limited amount of time to be debated in Parliament, or has to be shelved. Mr Burt deliberately used up the bill’s time by speaking at length for 27 minutes, despite heckles and jeering from Labour, SNP, and Conservative benches.

The proposed law would have compelled the Government to seek new licences for medicines that were not covered by patents but which could benefit patients. Currently, such medicines tend to go un-licensed because there is no profit incentive for pharmaceutical companies…

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