The Off-patent Drugs Bill has been blocked at its second reading in the House of Commons despite support from MPs of both parties and a number of charities and health organisations. It will be put onto the agenda for another reading in December, however is unlikely to be allocated time for debate.
The intention behind the Bill was to improve access to drugs where evidence demonstrates that they can treat a condition that they are not licensed for. Supporting access to cost effective and readily available treatments in this way would impact across many disease areas including brain tumours, breast cancer, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
The Brain Tumour Charity will continue to advocate for better access to repurposed drugs for people with a brain tumour. Given the lack of treatment options for people affected by a brain tumour it is important that existing drugs are utilised if they show evidence that they can treat the disease. Hydroxychloroquine is currently being tested for brain tumours and its speed of progression at the research stage can be attributed to the tests this drug passed on its way to being approved and licensed for malaria. It is crucial that if this drug is found to be effective for the treatment of brain tumours that it can get to those who need it most.
We would like to thank all of our supporters who asked their MP to attend the vote in support of the Bill and the MPs who found time in their schedule to show their support. We ask the government to meet their commitment to meet with organisations and see if there non-legislative means of achieving the aims of this Bill and build on the momentum of support and awareness of this campaign and take action to ensure that there is swifter access to off-patent drugs.