Power to make regulations about human medicines

Part of Medicines and Medical Devices Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:00 pm ar 8 Mehefin 2020.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 12:00, 8 Mehefin 2020

First, patient safety is paramount. That is where I began my journey into Parliament. In my case, it was access to cancer drugs—something close to my heart. With regard to Orkambi, I understand and share the frustration felt by everyone. My heart goes out to those affected, who are very often parents. The cystic fibrosis campaign has, I think, a 98% sign up of all parents who have had children with cystic fibrosis. On their fight for Orkambi, I am sure everybody feels sympathy for them, because it took so long to provide access.

Drug companies have a responsibility here. This refers slightly to the comments the hon. Member for Nottingham North made about life science sectors or pharmaceutical companies all being large. The drug companies have a responsibility to price their drugs responsibly in a way that reflects the benefits that they bring to patients. I feel that the arrangements that we have in place in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the cancer drugs fund have helped people to get access to medicines rapidly. There is still work to do, but they need to be marketised at a fair price. We made a commitment in our manifesto to establish an innovative medicines fund to address slightly some of the points that he made.

Amendments 22 to 27 relate to the three considerations the appropriate authority must have regard to when making regulations in relation to medicines for human and veterinary use and medical devices. The effect of the amendment would be to remove the requirement to have due regard to the attractiveness of the UK as a place to market and develop these products, and to assert the primacy of patient safety above all other considerations.

The safety of patients and the environment, people and animals—when moving into the area of veterinary medicine—absolutely underpins the regulatory decisions that are made. It is absolutely the case that we would never seek to make a regulatory change that puts somebody’s health at risk; that would be counter-intuitive. However, I do not think that patient safety or safety in general is in conflict with the other considerations that these amendments are intended to affect.

The purpose of the regulation is to ensure that we do what is in the best interests of UK patients, or the veterinary sector when it comes to animals, so that they receive the best possible treatment without undue impact on the environment. It is likely that having a dynamic and innovative market, where treatments or technologies are developed in the UK, contributes to the overall benefit of the patient, as those treatments will become available to them. These are not binary principles where regulation works only in the interests of one or the other.

The hon. Member for Nottingham North mentioned Nottingham—I also shout out to Cambridge, which is just down the road, and London, which the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow mentioned. This country’s life sciences sector is envied. The Government have committed to supporting it through the life science industrial strategy, in which we have sought to address the challenges faced by the industry and provide an environment that encourages companies to start and grow. All large companies start somewhere, and the hon. Member for Nottingham North knows that in the incubators around Nottingham, Cambridge and even my constituency of Bury St Edmunds, lots of small firms are working on the most incredible things to help patients.