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Once again, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) is battling a government over the price of a cystic fibrosis drug.

The latest row is taking place in the U.K., where the National Health Service is refusing to provide coverage unless the drug maker lowers the price for Orkambi. The haggling has, in fact, been underway for nearly two years, but the impasse has sparked frustration and debate in the U.K. Parliament after more than 114,000 people signed a petition demanding coverage.


The clash underscores the rising friction that can occur when cash-strapped governments confront high-priced medicines, an issue that is engulfing a growing number of countries, placing the pharmaceutical industry on the defensive and prompting patients to complain they have become pawns.

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