Sir Andrew Witty has accused the Government of delaying the use of new and innovative cancer drugs on the NHS in order to save money.
The GSK Chief Executive believes that the introduction of new products is being halted by the Government as part of measures aimed at lowering costs.
Speaking in an interview with the BBC, Sir Andrew said he was frightened that “governments are delaying the approval of innovative new drugs” to achieve increased savings.
He added that GSK were losing around £300 million per annum as governments across Europe reduced drug prices by approximately 5% a year.
On top of cutting healthcare costs, Sir Andrew said that drugs budgets were also being slashed and pointed towards a lack of new cancer drugs being used on the NHS.
“Cancer in the UK is a good example where we’re seeing oncology drugs being systematically delayed from introduction and reimbursement,” he said.
“We are seeing a variety of the more innovative and more expensive medicines being delayed in a whole series of different diseases across Europe.”
On top of the systematic delay of of new treatments, Sir Andrew also accused governments of treating the pharma industry as a “simple procurement business”.
“As governments have got more and more anxious about their debt positions and austerity agendas, what happened is quite predictable,” he said.
“If you are a minister and you need to cut costs, it is a lot easier to cut drug prices than it is to close a hospital or reduce the size of the Civil Service. I understand that.
“The issue here is, of course, if you don’t buy the new drug it is going to save you money in the drug bill. But the drug bill is only 8 per cent to 10 per cent of the total health care bill and what is being lost in this stampede for cost cut is any kind of strategic thoughtfulness.”
The Department of Health dismissed the accusations made by GSK’s CEO insisting spending has increased on medicines and that patients are receiving the latest treatments on the NHS. “The Government has increased spending on health, which includes new drugs, and thousands more patients are getting access to the most advanced treatments,” said a spokesman.
“This includes the 11,000 extra patients who have benefited from the setting up of our £650 million Cancer Drugs Fund. The need for careful assessment of drugs’ effectiveness by NICE is particularly important for patients and taxpayers during a time of economic austerity.
“The Government has not changed any assessment processes relating to cancer drugs. Furthermore, drug companies need to look hard at the high costs they are asking of the health service for their latest treatments.”