NEWS COMMENT: Drug firm salaries are a kick in the teeth to mum

It must have sickened Gemma Weir to hear details of the enormous salaries paid to the men who head Vertex Pharmaceuticals, in the US.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 4:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 5:19 pm

At first glance you may wonder what the astronomic pay packets of Simon Lem and Simon Bedson would have to do with a young mum from Paulsgrove. 

To prove what a small world this really is, Miss Weir has been campaigning on behalf of her daughter Ivy to get the life-changing drug Orkambi made available on the NHS. 

There is evidence the drug can stop the symptoms of cystic fibrosis getting worse.

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It is a condition Ivy lives with, along with thousands of others across the UK. 

At the moment the drug is only available privately in the UK. One course of treatment costs £104,000 per person per year – well out of the realms of affordability for ordinary people. 

Gemma has taken her campaign to Downing Street in the hope that a deal can be brokered between the pharmaceutical giant and the NHS but, to date, no deal has been struck. 

The knowledge that there is a drug out there that can help sufferers of this cruel condition but is simply too expensive, must be devastating. 

People are actually dying while a drug is being manufactured that could save them – but it is out of reach.

In fact more than 220 people have died in the UK of cystic fibrosis since Orkambi became available privately in 2016. 

How could such a situation arise in this day and age?

It is scandalous. 

And what is perhaps even more distressing for Miss Weir, is that the men who head up the company (although Mr Bedson has recently retired) commanded £15m between them, in shares, in 2017.  

This is a shocking situation to be in, three years after negotiations with the NHS started. 

It’s clearly a case of profits before people.