19 May 2022

Durkan: 'Wonder drug' deal ‘bittersweet’ for Northern Ireland

Foyle MLA welcomed newsNHS England has reached a deal with pharmaceutical company Vertex

Durkan: 'Wonder drug' deal ‘bittersweet’ for Northern Ireland

SDLP health spokesperson, Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has welcomed news that NHS England have reached a deal with pharmaceutical company Vertex to grant access to the Cystic Fibrosis “‘wonder drug” Orkambi.

It comes just a month after the Scottish government secured the same deal. Mr Durkan has said those living with Cystic Fibrosis in the North deserve access to the same life-changing drugs.

Mr Durkan, the SDLP's health spokesperson, said: “Today’s deal on Orkambi access whilst undoubtedly great news for all those living with Cystic Fibrosis in England, is somewhat bittersweet for Northern Ireland. Particularly as it comes just one month after the Scottish government secured the same.

“Campaigners here have fought fervently and continually for access to this life-changing drug. Over two years ago, I walked alongside people living with Cystic Fibrosis and their families to Stormont to demanding action.

“It is frustrating that today, we are seemingly no further forward yet their positive campaign to date, despite continuous challenges has been admirable. Not least, the fact that two years on, we still have no functioning government to even fight their case.

“Time is crucial where health matters are concerned- we must ensure that no more time is wasted and start delivering for people on the issues which matter most.”

He continued:“Access to the drug Orkambi will save lives and enhance the quality of life for so many people. It is necessary and as witnessed in Scotland and now England, access to this once declared ‘unaffordable’ drug is doable.

“The price of good health and improved quality of life cannot be quantified. Now is the time to move beyond talking and to start acting. Now is the time for the North to ask for the same, there is no reason why we can’t achieve the same outcomes.

“We need a restoration of our institutions and we need a Health Minister making these life-changing decisions in defence of the health interests of people here. We need to call it out for what it is, this is the denial of healthcare to some our most vulnerable. And it’s an unfortunately a far too familiar story throughout the health service here. People here deserve better. We deserve parity of access to life-changing drugs granted elsewhere on these island.”

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