MPs' delight that cystic fibrosis drug now available to NHS patients
PUBLISHED: 17:37 25 October 2019
Our MPs have welcomed the news that long-running negotiations about the cystic fibrosis drug, Orkambi have resulted in a deal between NHS England and manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Campaigners had been demanding access to Orkambi and other cystic fibrosis drugs produced by Vertex for more than two years. Heidi Allen - MP for South Cambridgeshire - joined the fight for access in June 2018, after the plight of several constituents was brought to her attention.
Her actions included writing several times to the Department of Health and Vertex pressing for an urgent resolution to the negotiations.
Announcing the news yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged the efforts of campaigners, writing "Huge thanks to the many campaigners who have worked so hard, and to Vertex and the NHS".
The deal means NHS patients will now have full access to Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco - and around 5,000 people may now take up these treatments.
Clinicians will be able to begin prescribing these drugs within 30 days.
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Mrs Allen said: "I am delighted to hear that a deal has been reached between Vertex and NHS England to secure access to these life-changing drugs.
"The fight has been long and the CF community have never wavered.
"This is such good news for patients who need this treatment and have had a long wait to access it.
"I'm delighted that parliament and the public kept up the pressure to get us to this wonderful result."
North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald said: "I am delighted that the families locally who have been campaigning for so long will now see this drug available for their loved ones."
He was thanked by David Ramsay, chief executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, for his help in the campaign.
In a message sent on Thursday, Mr Ramsay said: "A huge thank you for the crucial role you have played in the campaign for access to cystic fibrosis medicines and for ensuring this success. We really appreciate your support."
There is no access to Orkambi on the NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland, Mr Ramsay said they would continue to fight for access so that all CF sufferers in the UK are able to benefit from these live-changing drugs.