The world's biggest drugs firms could abandon Britain and delay launching medicines unless an extra £20 billion is pumped into the NHS, according to a leading pharmaceutical association.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is demanding an increase in health spending from 9.9% to 11% of GDP in "detailed" election campaign requests, which has prompted criticism of "special pleading" from Tory MPs.
Lisa Anson, the new president of the ABPI, suggested that a funding squeeze on the health service could lead to an exodus of drugs firms from Britain, The Times reports.
Ms Anson, who is also the head of drugs firm AstraZeneca, also said the future of the £30 billion life sciences sector could be in jeopardy.
The ABPI represents more than 100 medicine manufacturers in the UK including Pfizer and GSK.
Ms Anson claimed that patients and firms will suffer from an NHS which "rations" treatments, and that firms were "happy to discuss" tax rises to fill the funding gap.
Without an increase in healthcare spending, firms will not be able to carry out clinical trials or develop new drugs against existing treatments, if patients in Britain are not receiving the medicines in the first place, she suggested.
She told The Times: "Recent rationing signals are warning signs that we are eroding the... research environment and access to new medicines by eroding the competitiveness of a key sector for a short-term affordability issue."
She also warned that the UK would become a "desert for healthcare innovation".
She said: "If we are ambitious to have the life sciences sector, which is one of the key sectors of the UK economy, (as) world class then our aspiration should be to have a world-class NHS with world-class outcomes for patients."
This comes weeks after NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens revealed patients needing non-urgent operations faced a longer wait, in plans to save money as the health service handles a higher demand.