Ovarian Cancer Drug Approved For Use In NI

An ovarian cancer drug with the potential to extend the life of patients has been approved for use in Northern Ireland for the first time.

Women will now be able to use niraparib, which is already available through the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales.

An average of 221 cases are diagnosed each year in Northern Ireland, and those with recurring ovarian cancer can make use of the drug.

Niraparib works as a targeted treatment which exploits specific weaknesses in cancer cells, preventing them from repairing themselves.

The drug is expected to improve the quality of life for women suffering from the condition, and will lengthen the time when it is stable and not progressing.

Implementing the recommendations of NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), the Department of Health has brought patients in the region in line with those from the rest of the UK.

SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark Durkan welcomed the approval of the life-extending treatment.

"For many years the SDLP have stood shoulder to shoulder with sufferers of cancer and other conditions fighting for fair access to vital medication- for parity with elsewhere in the UK," he explained.
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"Access to cancer drugs such as Niraparib should not be based on cost but rather on patient need. I am hopeful this medication can help ease the suffering and improve the lives of many people here, including providing their loved ones with comfort in the knowledge that they are being treated with the most suitable drug for their needs.

"Whilst today's announcement is welcome, it is long overdue. Today we think of all those who campaigned for this civil right and those who would have benefited from it but sadly were not given that chance."

The Foyle MLA continued to call for the restoration of Stormont's power-sharing institutions to ensure the public get change on issues of importance.

"Frustratingly, access to Niraparib and other critical drugs have been delayed in the absence of a Health Minister and a functioning Assembly. As too has the urgent need for the implementation of a cancer strategy. These are the issues we need to get serious on, these are the reasons we need our Executive back up and running. People suffering from cancer cannot afford to wait- the people of Northern Ireland deserve better than to be treated as second class citizens where health is concerned."


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