Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


A licence to cure

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 01 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1723

Rapid Response:

Re: A licence to cure

Aronson and Ferner (1) have highlighted a very ugly feature of pharmaceutical industry. It was shocking to learn that use of propranolol (Haemangeol) to treat haemangiomas will cost 40 times more than the cheapest available oral solution of propranolol. How could a drug which has been around for nearly 50 years be patented afresh for a particular indication ?

A comparison would be if a manufacturer of umbrellas patents their use as a sun block !

Clearly the patent system is broken and needs to be fixed. Alternatively, governments should bring about a legislation preventing drug companies from charging extortionate prices on drugs without full explanation about production cost.

Ideally pricing of drugs should be agreed between drug companies and a government body or a price regulator. Such bodies do exist for other utilities such as electricity or mobile phones, where a pricing formula is agreed so that the companies can make a reasonable profit. Why should medicines be left out ?

Reference: Aronson JK, Ferner RE. A licence to cure. BMJ 2015; 350: h1723.

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 April 2015
Pramod P. Bapat
Consultant Anaesthetist
Dept. Of Anaesthetics, Arrowe Park Hospital
Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, UK CH495PE