Sunderland MP calls on Government and companies to provide better access to vital drugs

Sharon Hodgson MP.
Sharon Hodgson MP.
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A Wearside MP is calling on the Government and drug companies to provide more access to drugs for patients who are fighting deadly illnesses.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, has spoken of the plight of women and men living with incurable breast cancer by making the case for better access to cancer drugs for patients in England, at a meeting in Parliament.

Organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer (APPGBC) in response to January’s backbench debate on access to Kadcyla and other breast cancer drugs, the meeting sought to bring together parliamentarians, patients and other figures to discuss how access to vital drugs can be improved.

Following a number of high-profile drug rejections in the last 12 months, the meeting provided an opportunity for patients and MPs to discuss the current availability of breast cancer treatments with representatives from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), NHS England as well as pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Roche.

The discussion focused on the provisional rejections of the breast cancer drugs Kadcyla and palbociclib, as well as the future availability of Perjeta.

With just three out of the last 13 breast cancer treatment appraisals resulting in positive recommendations, and cancer outcomes in England continuing to lag behind the rest of Europe, it was also a chance to address wider issues of the drug appraisal system, the newly reformed Cancer Drugs Fund and the role of pharma in improving access to treatments.

Following the meeting Ms Hodgson said: “It was a welcome opportunity to bring senior people from both NHS England, NICE and two of the major pharmaceutical companies together to discuss the issues seen in the cancer drugs appraisal system, especially when it comes to breast cancer drugs.

“We have seen great strides for patient’s access to cancer drugs since the introduction of the Cancer Drugs Fund, but this progress is at threat of being undermined if access to cancer drugs is not improved.

“As is often the case when discussing access to drugs, the problem lies with the NICE appraisal process.

“This is the beginning of an on-going dialogue with all key stakeholders and those patients affected by these decisions, and will help us to continue to lobby the Government to seek changes to the way drugs are appraised, along with improving the funding on offer to NHS England and NICE to ensure patients get access to these drugs.”