McKinney welcomes victory for cancer drugs fund campaigners
He said: "This is a real victory for the campaigners who have fought hard for the introduction of a cancer drugs fund similar to that in Scotland, England and Wales. The SDLP has stood shoulder to shoulder with campaigners and brought their struggle to the floor of the Assembly on a number of occasions. I’m glad that the Minister has arrived at the same conclusion.
“I do have concerns about the Minister’s delivery mechanism though. It has been made clear that the funds drawn from the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme are specifically earmarked for spend on new and experimental drugs to save lives in exactly these circumstances.
“We need significant reassurances from the Minister around his plans to increase prescription charges to support the new fund. Pressures around the Health Service continue to grow and the Minister has yet to address wastage in any substantive way. Any move to reintroduce prescription charges would need to be consulted widely on, include robust protection for those on low wages and with long term conditions and come with a guarantee that the revenue raised would be channelled exclusively into the Specialist Medicines Fund.
“There are significant questions to be answered on this and we will continue to support the campaigners in their fight against major health inequalities.”