40 of the UK’s most eminent clinicians, working across a number of medical conditions, are backing a campaign by Breast Cancer Now to unlock cheap, off-patent drugs for new uses.

Existing off-patent drugs that have been shown to be highly effective for a different purpose to the one that they were originally intended for could remain out of reach to patients across the UK as they are not licensed for their new use. 

Currently there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to license and seek approval of cheap, off patent drugs for another medical use on the NHS. Breast Cancer Now, supported by the UK scientific and medical community, is calling on all Scottish MPs to vote in favour of the Off-patent Drugs Bill when it receives its second reading in Parliament on Friday 6 November 2015.

The Bill, which could make more drugs available to patients in Scotland, would save lives and benefit people with a range of conditions including breast cancer, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

It would remove barriers to low-cost, effective treatments by putting into UK law a duty on the Government to step in where there is no incentive for a pharmaceutical company to act. 

Professor Mike Dixon, Leading Consultant Breast Surgeon at Edinburgh’s Breast Unit is just one of many leading clinicians to back the charity’s campaign. He said:

“We need to be doing everything possible to treat and prevent breast cancer."

“Politicians have an opportunity to introduce a system that will remove barriers to cheap off-patent drugs being available for new innovative purposes. They have the power in their hands to unlock these drugs to benefit breast cancer patients across the UK.

“These off-patent drugs are not expensive and give clinicians more options. We need to have a system in place that helps the health service across the UK get these drugs to patients as quickly as possible.”

Mary Allison, Director for Scotland, Breast Cancer Now said:

“The Off-patent Drugs Bill could save lives and benefit people in Scotland who are living with breast cancer, as well as a host of other conditions." 

“As research finds new and innovative uses for off-patent drugs, we need a system in place that gets this progress to patients quickly. The Bill will help us do that.

“It is great that the Bill has the support of so many of the UK’s most respected and influential clinicians.  We now need the support of MPs, including those in Scotland, on 6 November to secure this change for patients.”

More information

Find out more about our Unlock Drugs campaign.