Poll shows voters support Labour drug price plan

A poll has shown broad support for Labour’s NHS and drug price policies, irrespective of their voting intention.

At last week’s Labour Party annual conference, leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled a raft of measures aimed at cutting the price of drugs.

Corbyn launched the policy document entitled Medicines for the Many with an attack on drug companies, claiming they put shareholder profits before people’s lives and represent “capitalism at its very worst”.

Policies in the document include using compulsory or “Crown use” licenses to clear the way for generics firms to make cheaper copies of patented medicines.

Corbyn unveiled the policies as he met with nine year-old cystic fibrosis patient Luis Walker, who has been unable to access Vertex’s Orkambi (ivacaftor+lumacaftor) because of an ongoing row between the manufacturer and NICE over pricing.

According to the poll by ComRes commissioned by MHP Communications, 86% of voters in a sample of 2,045 people supported the package of measures to manage medicine pricing and access.

More than two thirds of voters (68%) support establishing a UK Government run medicines development and manufacturing company, including the majority of Conservative voters (57%).

Commenting on the results, MHP’s Head of Health, Kate Pogson said: “Proposals to regulate pharmaceutical companies and medicines manufacturing were among the most radical policy announcements from the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

“Yet our polling reveals a positive public reception, with even Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters broadly in favour. The results reveal more needs to be done to educate the public on the broader societal and economic value of the pharmaceutical industry to the UK and the role that intellectual property plays in the Research and Development process.”

ComRes interviewed 2,045 British adults online between the 25th and 26th September 2019 on the recent Labour Party healthcare announcements. Data were weighted to be representative of GB adults by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade.

A separate poll of 1,741 people conducted prior to the Labour conference announcement demonstrated that Labour and the Conservative Party are ‘neck and neck’ when it comes to who the public trusts most with the running of the NHS.

While Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was on 19% of the poll, 21% of the public preferred Jeremy Corbyn. This result is in contrast to similar polling conducted in 2017, where Jeremy Corbyn commanded a 16-point lead over Theresa May.

“The parity between the parties is striking”, said Pogson. “Labour should, and have historically, been a long way ahead with their stewardship of the NHS being one of their strongest electoral assets. The findings may also indicate the Conservatives’ claims to have substantially increased NHS funding over recent years have been popular, and that many people do believe leaving the EU will lead to increased NHS funding”.

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