News | McKinney: Local Cancer breakthrough undermined by Health Minister’s refusal to establish drugs fund

McKinney: Local Cancer breakthrough undermined by Health Minister’s refusal to establish drugs fund

SDLP Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney MLA has welcomed an announcement by Almac Diagnostics of further breakthroughs in the treatment of Ovarian Cancer. However he says that these breakthroughs are being undermined by the Health Minister’s refusal to establish a cancer drugs fund.

Speaking after the announcement, Mr McKinney said:

“I first want to congratulate Almac on this new research which will advance the treatment of Ovarian Cancer. The research, funded by £2.75 million by Invest NI, will help provide greater precision in the use of Bevacizumab therapy in cases of High Grade Ovarian Cancer. Northern Ireland is now gaining a global reputation as leaders in cancer research and treatment. The funding provided by Invest NI that allowed this research to progress will only strengthen that.

“However, it is an unacceptable fact that while our scientists continue to lead the way in the study and treatment of cancer, the drugs that they produce and the breakthroughs they make are not available for patients here. There are currently 39 clinically proven cancer-fighting drugs straightforwardly available in England that are not available here. This includes Bevacizumab, commonly known as Avastin.

“For months now, I have called on the Health Minister to end this inequality, to establish a cancer drugs fund and to make the treatments which are pioneered in Belfast available to the people here. Sadly that call has fallen on deaf ears. Despite the breakthroughs that our scientists continue to make, and that our taxes continue to fund, cancer sufferers in the North are unable to benefit. It is simply cruel that they’re disadvantaged by living in the region where these treatments are forged.

“The Minister must act immediately to address this cruel inequality and give hope to those who need it most.”

 

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