The government has held secret discussions with US drug companies about NHS medicine prices, despite Boris Johnson’s claims that the health service would not be included in any post-Brexit trade deal with America.
The revelations comes as a damning poll found that 45 per cent of people believe the prime minister is lying about keeping the NHS off the table in any trade deal with the Trump administration.
According to an investigation by Channel Four’s Dispatches programme, which uncovered the meetings, the price the NHS pays for US medicines could soar under a Trump trade deal after the UK leaves the EU.
Dispatches reporter Antony Barnett discovered that “drug pricing” has been discussed in six initial meetings between trade officials from the two countries.
Barnet also learned of secret meetings between US drugs firms and British civil servants where medicine “price caps” have been talked about.
Dispatches was told that British trade officials have been warned that the subject is so sensitive that they must not mention “drug pricing” in emails but use the term “valuing innovation”.
The US government and its powerful pharmaceutical industry want the NHS to pay more for their medicines which are much more expensive across the Atlantic.
They want to remove the UK’s ability to block American drugs not deemed “value for money” and restrict our powers to allow cheaper alternatives to be prescribed to patients, which save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
According to research carried out for the programme, the cost to the UK government could run into the billions, approximately £27bn, wiping out the potential Brexit bonus for the NHS promised by Johnson.
Commenting on the investigation, Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said, “Unite has consistently raised the alarm over Tory plans to lock the UK into a damaging post-Brexit trade deal with the Trump administration that, among other things, would see the NHS offered on a platter to big business.
“Despite Johnson insisting that the NHS would not be on the table in any trade negotiations with the US, these revelations demonstrate that the prime minister and his cronies are planning to do just that.
“Johnson is inherently dishonest and cannot be trusted with the NHS. We need a Labour government that will save our health service, rather than sell it, as a matter of urgency.”