The problem with pharmaceutical policy is that it has become “over-focused to the point of obsession on issues of price and cost”, Professor Richard Sullivan, Director, Institute of Cancer Policy, will argue during the PharmaTimes Great Oxford Debate on 20 September at Oxford University, UK. 

Professor Sullivan, who is also a member of the Kings Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre, will join Eric Low, chief executive of Myeloma UK, and Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, at the prestigious annual debating event to propose that ‘patients have the right to the best medicines, regardless of cost’. 

“The argument is not that we should pay whatever a company demands for a licensed medicine irrespective of how little benefit it bestows, rather that value is a much more subtle and complex issue than price alone,” Professor Sullivan says. 

However, Professor Sullivan and co will have their work cut out for them as arguing against the motion, will be the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, MP, Chairman of the Health Select Committee, Professor Mike Pringle, President Elect of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Laura Weir, Head of Policy & Campaigns, MS Society and Chair, Patients Involved in NICE.

Says Dorrell: “I am strongly in favour of using the NHS budget to secure the best possible outcome for patients, but not in favour of a motion that appears to give treatments based on pharmaceutical products a higher priority than other forms of treatment, nor am I in favour of implying that decisions about healthcare should never be constrained by a real life requirement to decide about priorities.” 

But isn’t it society’s moral and ethical duty to ensure that as new medicines are researched and developed they find their way to patients to prolong and improve patients’ wellbeing? 

What do you believe? Do patients have the right to the best medicines under the NHS Constitution? If the best medicine is the NICE approved medicine, just what are patients' rights? Are those aged over 65 being discriminated against? Or is it that the NHS simply cannot afford the best medicines? 

Join the debate on 20 September at the Oxford Union. For more details and to register your attendance click here or contact Hannah Smith or phone 0208 487 9119. 

About the Great Oxford Debate 

Established in 1993, the PharmaTimes Great Oxford Debate is one of UK pharma's premiere calendar events.

At one level it promotes, encourages and magnifies debate about an important healthcare issue while at another, it provides a uniquely impressive forum where healthcare executives from all walks of life can meet and freely debate an issue without corporate packs on their backs. 

Typically attracting an audience from industry, NHS and Parliament, these annual debates have benefited from some great speakers, including Ministers of Health, Chairmen of Health Select Committees, the FDA and Deputy FDA Commissioners as well as leading NHS consultants, BMA chairmen and wits such as Dr Phil Hammond.

For many companies it is an opportunity to take 'time out' with industry & NHS colleagues in an unrivalled setting, where some of the world’s greatest leaders have spoken.