Health Minister Confirms Extension To Use Of Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that Kaftrio will be made available to suitable patients aged six years and older in Northern Ireland for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF).

Kaftrio was initially approved for use in Northern Ireland in 2020 following an agreement with its supplier Vertex Pharmaceuticals which gave access to people with CF over the age of 12 in line with a European-wide license. The recent extension means that clinically suitable children aged six and over can now benefit from Kaftrio.

Minister Swann said: "This decision will mean a great deal to the children with cystic fibrosis who are suitable for this treatment in Northern Ireland. This licence extension is included as part of the deal agreed with the supplier, Vertex in 2020. I am very pleased that this cutting-edge medicine will be available to more of our cystic fibrosis patient population and allow them to have a better quality of life."

The move applies to patients who have at least one F508del mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene and follows a recommendation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Providing and delivering Kaftrio to patients is a complex process. This triple combination treatment (Kaftrio) combines three drugs which perform different functions – ivacaftor, tezacaftor and elexacaftor. Therefore a number of different healthcare professionals will work together to ensure patients are managed properly.

The Minister added: "When a new treatment becomes available it is fully understandable that patients and families should want immediate access to it. However, not all patients aged six to 11 with cystic fibrosis will be suitable for treatment with Kaftrio, and not everyone can be seen immediately by the multi-disciplinary teams who need to make this determination. The Health Service is working hard to make this treatment available to those who can benefit as soon as possible and I would therefore ask you to continue to be patient and let the clinical teams prioritise those patients who are in most need to be seen first."

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