Make drug available for prostate cancer suffers - Simpson

UPPER Bann MP David Simpson has called for the life extending drug abiraterone to be made available in Northern Ireland to people suffering with prostate cancer.

“The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has indicated that they will not recommend abiraterone - a life extending treatment for men in the final stages of prostate cancer, ” said Mr Simpson who was speaking after a briefing from the charity.

“This guidance has been issued for consultation; it has not yet been issued to the NHS. It is possible that NICE’s recommendation may change following consultation.

“In the interim, abiraterone can be accessed by some patients in Northern Ireland through the Individual Funding Request (IFR) process if their consultant considers it would benefit them. The decision on whether to fund a new drug is a matter for the Health and Social Care Board as service commissioners, and all cases are dealt with on an individual basis and considered on their respective merits.

“I want to see this drug available for everyone in Northern Ireland who needs it.

“Abiraterone prolongs the life of men with incurable prostate cancer. It represents a very significant breakthrough in the treatment of the disease. It can prolong a persons life by several months, which might not seem very much to some people, but could allow a cancer sufferer the possibility of walking his daughter down the aisle to get married or to hold a grandchild in his arms, or see his son graduate from university.

“Historically, prostate cancer has suffered from a legacy of neglect and in recent years very little progress has been made in the treatment of the advanced stages of the disease.  New treatments, like abiraterone, are major steps in redressing that.

“Men with advanced prostate cancer ought to have access to this and their families ought to have access to the extra time together that it gives.”