Hope breakthrough ovarian cancer drug will be available in NI

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A leading cancer charity has said Northern Ireland women with ovarian cancer should have access to a breakthrough new drug thanks to a decision taken at Stormont last year.

A new drug for ovarian cancer, known as Lynparza (olaparib), has been approved as a first treatment on the NHS and is being made available through the Cancer Drugs Fund in England following approval by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The charity Ovarian Cancer Action UK say changes made by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, in September 2018, to its access arrangements for new medicines should mean patients here won’t miss out.

Lynparza (olaparib) has been shown to extend lives by more than doubling the number of patients whose cancer is prevented from getting worse.

Marie-Claire Platt, from Ovarian Cancer Action, said: “Following the recent decision from the Department of Health that Northern Irish patients will also have access to medicines approved through the Cancer Drugs Fund, we hope and expect that women in Northern Ireland will benefit from this exciting treatment.”

The Department of Health has not yet publicly confirmed whether the new drug will be made available in Northern Ireland.

But last year, a spokesperson for the department said drugs approved by NICE for use through the Cancer Drug Fund in England will now be considered in line with existing arrangements for Northern Ireland endorsement of NICE recommendations.