Fire in the Blood



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Dear [Name of Member of Parliament],

I am writing to you as a constituent who is increasingly alarmed at the situation of access to medicine and the devastating effects of excessive prices on patented drugs.

Today over 2 billion people worldwide lack access to medicines, largely due to high prices.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that approximately one-third of all deaths worldwide are caused by treatable and preventable ailments, mainly because people cannot access the drugs they need.

The US and EU have spent the last decade pressuring poor countries to introduce new rules, especially via “free trade” agreements, that extend monopolies for medicines and increase medicine prices.

I ask that you write to Secretaries of State Justine Greening and Vince Cable and ask that they take the following steps to begin addressing the urgent problems of access to medicine faced by people in the global south, as well as those here at home (further information about each point is provided in a parliamentary briefing found at

1. Stop the EU from pushing for stricter Intellectual Property (IP) measures on medicine in international trade negotiations.
2. Support Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in their request to be exempt from compliance with the WTO TRIPS Agreement until such time as they are no longer an LDC Member.
3. Advocate for the UK Government to take a leadership role in international efforts to eliminate monopolies on essential medicines.

I further ask that you write to Universities Minister David Willetts and ask him to take steps to: Ensure Publicly-Funded British research can be, and is, used to improve access to medicine in the developing world.

84% of basic research for drug discovery is funded by government and public sources, as against just 12% funded by pharmaceutical companies.  Under the current system, however, giant pharma companies enjoy patent monopolies on new medicines, which allow them to set prices out of reach to all but a tiny sliver of the world’s people.

I think that is both unsustainable and wrong, and I support the efforts of leading civil society organisations in the U.K. working to expand and improve the outlook for access to medicine, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Medsin, Oxfam GB, the Stop AIDS Campaign, Tearfund and Universities Allied for Essential Medicine (UAEM).

As your constituent, I ask that you give careful consideration to taking the steps outlined above, in order to help the UK government do the right thing and finally take a real leadership role in international efforts to improve the increasingly-perilous outlook for access to essential medicines.

Sincerely yours, [Name of Constituent]