The head of Britain biggest drugs company has accused the Government of systematically delaying the introduction of new cancer drugs in order to save money.
GLaxoSmithKline chief executive Sir Andrew Witty warned that ministers were making false economies as they tried to grapple with the deficit in the public finances.
In an interview with the BBC, he said that governments across Europe had already cut drug prices by 5% a year - costing GSK around £300 million per annum.
However, he said governments were now seeking to go further in an effort to achieve even bigger savings - and he highlighted Britain's decision to delay new cancer treatments.
"The bit I'm much more frightened about is that what's now beginning to become clear is that, in addition to price reductions, governments are delaying the approval of innovative new drugs," he said.
"So a second way they can save money, they think, is 'Let's just not buy the next round of innovation'.
"Cancer in the UK is a good example where we're seeing oncology drugs being systematically delayed from introduction and reimbursement.
"We are seeing a variety of the more innovative and more expensive medicines being delayed in a whole series of different diseases across Europe."
Sir Andrew accused governments of treating the pharmaceuticals industry as a "simple procurement business" without understanding the wider implications of their decisions.
"As governments have got more and more anxious about their debt positions and austerity agendas, what happened is quite predictable," he said.
"If you are a minister and you need to cut costs, it is a lot easier to cut drug prices than it is to close a hospital or reduce the size of the Civil Service. I understand that.
"The issue here is, of course, if you don't buy the new drug it is going to save you money in the drug bill. But the drug bill is only 8% to 10% of the total healthcare bill and what is being lost in this stampede for cost cut is any kind of strategic thoughtfulness."