Secret talks between senior British civil servants and representatives of several major American pharmaceutical giants concerning NHS drug prices have been revealed, raising fears that the Conservative government plans wholesale privatisation and price hikes post-Brexit.
Speaking with Channel 4 Dispatches, a source with knowledge of the talks has stated that British trade negotiators have had six meetings with U.S. counterparts to discuss what will compromise a future trade deal between Britain and the United States.
While exact details of discussions are highly confidential, a source told Dispatches that drug prices and drug “price caps” have been a subject on the table at all six meetings between the two parties with representatives of U.S. Big Pharma being given direct access to British trade officials.
Several of the meetings are said to be of a clandestine nature, with undeclared face-to-face meetings and secret meetings happening in both London and Washington.
The last meeting between the two sides is said to have been in August following Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister.
Speaking to Channel 4, the Department for International Trade said:
“The sustainability of the NHS is an absolute priority for the government. We could not agree to any proposals or medicines pricing or access that would put NHS finances at risk or reduce clinician and patient choice.”
Despite their words, Dispatches has claimed that U.S. leader Donald Trump and representatives of Big Pharma wish to hike the prices of drugs provided to the NHS.
The new revelations will once again bring the future of the NHS to the forefront of Brexit and general election debate, with fears growing that the Conservative Government will sacrifice the NHS in order to secure a trade deal with the U.S.
It was less than a week ago that Labour proposed an amendment to the Queen’s Speech protect the NHS from price hikes and privatisation. The amendment was defeated after the Liberal Democrats abstained from voting.