Labour published minutes of meetings between UK and US trade officials. And although direct evidence that the NHS was ‘up for sale’, drug prices and patents were discussed a number of times…
The bottom line was that the US officials were pushing for increased drug prices. This was in addition to discussing length of patents, which if decreased, would affect the standard of drugs coming into the country.
Drug pricing can seem like an abstract concept but it does have a very real impact on people’s lives.
Currently there are many new drugs that are unaffordable for the NHS.
Here is a video showing a very real story:
Drug Prices In The USA
The bottom line in the USA, every day prescriptions, medicines that are vital to some people’s every day lives such as insulin are out of control.
Here’s a video on the problem of the cost of insulin in the US.
Reuters found that since 2012 has almost doubled AND as you will see in the video, medical professionals do not know how many people are DYING.
But free market economics says that growth is essential for prosperity. The problem when we apply this model to drugs is that market saturation can happen much faster.
So in order to make more profit, you have to raise prices and without state intervention, you end up with prices doubling.
What Increases Prices Could Mean
Many sick and disabled people rely on a specific cocktail of drugs AND receive support with the cost.
Currently, which drugs that the NHS (in England) does and doesn’t buy is decided by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice).
Nice evaluate a drug’s suitability for the NHS primarily on effectiveness vs. value for money.
The reason why some newer drugs, which are more effective, are not available on the NHS is because of their price.
Nice often have to make tough decisions regarding new drugs that come onto the market because the NHS only has so much buying power.
However, it is exactly the buying power of the NHS that has the US all hot and bothered.
The NHS’s bulk buying power has meant cheaper prices from many American suppliers. Many in the US government (including Donald Trump) have complained about this.
If this bulk buying bargaining power was taken away, Nice would have little choice than to take some drugs off the approved list.
This could have serious consequences for many of the most vulnerable in our society.
There are many sick and disabled people who only find certain drug combinations effective, take one of those way and it could very difficult to replace.
Changes in the availability of certain drugs would hit sick and disabled people from across the spectrum very hard.
It is not just those with physical conditions.
It is those with autism and down syndrome who rely on medication to help their mood and anxiety.
Ultimately, we could cause the deaths to some of the most vulnerable in our society. Anyone who knows/cares for/works with anyone who has complex needs understands this all too well.
Many people seem not too.
We talk in this country now about moving further right to match the USA.
Healthcare in the UK is equal to everyone. You don’t have to worry about the how much it will cost. Cost is a very real concern for many living in America.
As you have seen from the videos above, people are rationing insulin, INSULIN!
Whether or not, Boris Johnson wants to put the NHS up for sale or not, changes to drug pricing will have very real consequences.
Will It Happen?
These talks have been spun as ‘exploratory’ and ‘non-binding’. However, there is few things to bear in mind:
1. The Conservatives need a USA trade deal
The tory version of Brexit relies on a trade deal with the USA. That is unarguable. It smells desperate because it is. It is the central plank of the strategy and it needs to be done QUICKLY.
2. The US will be able to make demands
The US holds all the power here and under current conditions, we will have to cede to demands that they make.
3. Listen to a former conservative PM.
The NHS is about as safe with them as hamster is with a hungry python.
In this country, we take care of everyone regardless of the complexity of their conditions.
Any changes to this system puts this at risk.
Things like changes to drug pricing may seem like a small thing. It may seem insignificant.
But fairness is all about equality, if we move the needle, if only a little then equality is under threat.
Also consider this if we want to decrease the disadvantages that people with complex needs – we need to ensure they are as healthy in body and mind as possible.
Protecting people and ensuring that EVERYONE has good quality healthcare. If we see changes to drug prices, make no mistake, this is the start of slippery slope.
Does having a disability automatically mean that you should settle for less out of life?
What The Numbers Say?
The statistics are perhaps why we might suggest that disabled should prepare to settle for less.
Currently, there is a 50% unemployment rate amongst those who are registered as disabled. This is compared to the national average of 3.9% (https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment).
Indeed, although many disabled people say that they have the same priorities as everyone else, they face significant challenges in doing so (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/320509/building-understanding-main-report.pdf).
Disabled people are far more likely to leave school without any qualifications (19.2% compared to 6.2%).
In relationships, 3% of disabled people are thought to be in stable relationships compared to 70% of non-disabled people.
According to official gov guidelines, “A substantially higher proportion of individuals who live in families with disabled members live in poverty, compared to individuals who live in families where no one is disabled.”
None of this paints a pretty picture, does it?
So should disabled people be prepared to settle for less?
Why The Numbers, Don’t Tell The Whole Story
Lets not beat around the bush, the numbers paint a pretty grim picture, don’t they?
Less likely to have qualifications, a happy relationship and a job.
What’s the point of living?
Well, the stats do not tell the whole tale.
Well clearly, not all disabled people are living in poverty, single and miserable.
So NEITHER DO YOU!
Your Wellness Is The Starting Point
We are beginning to wake up to the fact that our mental health is so very important to our wellbeing.
For many disabled people, staying mentally well is a real challenge.
From finding barriers in their communities, to inaccessible buildings and events without planning- it is too easy to become isolated.
And the big problem here is that is the first step in settling for less, if you are not going out, if you keep staring at the same 4 walls, you can convince yourself that is all you deserve.
So how do you combat isolation?
Getting Out And About
The key thing to do combat this feeling of isolation and by extension improve your mental health, is to get out and about.
And while getting out and about can seem tricky, there are things that you can do to make things easier.
1. Find events that match your interests
This might sound obvious but the point is important, and that is because your interests are important to you. That is why, finding people who share your interest can be great. It is a chance to show your passion and speak with confidence. It also gives you a chance to see that other people think and feel the same as you do.
2. Do your research
Everything is scary.
In your head that little devil is going, “what if?”
Combating doubt and challenging your anxiety means taking the devil head on. Planning is the way to do this.
If you are worried about getting into venue, call them and chat to the staff. That way, you can let them know you are coming and they can prepare the lift/ramp or anything else.
Do your research and break down the fear.
Get Into A Routine
Once you break down the fear, you should aim to get into a routine. If you find something that you enjoy, make into a regular thing.
Whether it is going to an activity group or even just down the pub, do it consistently. It will build your confidence and slowly you will branch out into new things.
For more tips about getting out and about – click here.
How Does This All Help You Not Settle For Less?
It is all about making those small steps. Once you start becoming more engaged in your community, you will see opportunities open up to you and this is where you need to be alert.
Things like volunteering, training and gaining skills can all happen if you feel confident to grasp the nettle.
You need to be mentally ready and confident to see and seize the opportunities that will come your way.
But if you a break down your fears and consistently challenging your boundaries, new opportunities won’t seem so scary.
From there it is all about taking those small steps further down the road and seeking further opportunities.
A Little Bit of Knowledge Can Really Help
The other big thing is to know your rights and know what you are entitled to. Things like knowing how to board a train and how to get the most out of train travel, can make all the difference.
Because by exercising your rights, you have better experience and you feel more confident.
Also by properly exercising your rights, you will begin to expect more and will feel more confident about asking for it.
None of It Should Cost The Earth
Money, it makes the world go round right?
And the problem is, it costs more if you are disabled.
So money can be a big reason why disabled people feel like they should settle for less.
Hell, many have less to begin with.
But by exercising your rights, you can get a better outcome and if you ensure your getting everything your entitled to, you can feel the difference.
That means that if your working (even part time), you’re getting Access to Work and Tax Credits.
Could the UK give you a better deal?
Of course they could.
With what we have now, you CAN feel better, you can get more and you should not settle for less.
Make The Change Now
Here are some steps to get started:
- Think about what you are passionate about.
- Explore how you might service those passions.
- Follow that.
- Research the hell out of everything.
- Fill yourself with confidence.
- Take every opportunity.
- Gain skills, knowledge and go forwards.
- Expect more.
- Want more.
- Never settle for less.