PoliticalSpeak: Off-patent Drugs Bill – 6th November

Dear Chuka Umunna

I am Professor of Neurology at Barts Health NHS Trust and have a sub-specialty interest in multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is the most common disabling disease to affect young adults in the UK. An estimated 120,000 people have MS in the UK. As it affects young people its socioeconomic impact is very large. There is a long list of drugs that may be effective in treating MS that are now off-patent. I therefore urge you to support the second reading of the “Off-patent Drugs Bill” on the 6th November 2015, which has been introduced by Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds. Last year a similar bill by Jonathan Peter Evans got little attention by members of the House of Commons. Please do not let this happen again.

Although the issues this bill addresses are complex, it provides an opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in drug repurposing. The latter is not only important for the UK, but helps many people with diseases in resource-poor countries that don’t have the resources to develop drugs, or simply cannot afford high-cost innovative new treatments for MS.

We have recently published a paper addressing some of the issues that I have attach for your information.

Giovannoni G, Baker D, Schmierer K. The problem with repurposing: Is there really an alternative to Big Pharma for developing new drugs for multiple sclerosis? Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2015 Jan;4(1):3-5.

If you have any queries I would be willing to meet you to discuss them in more detail.

Yours sincerely


Professor Gavin Giovannoni
Barts and The London
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