Cancer Focus NI holds equal access to drugs public meeting

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Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is urging local people to attend a public meeting in Craigavon to voice their opinions on how to improve access to specialist drugs.

The meeting is one in a series being organised by the DHSSPS across Northern Ireland, and will be held at Craigavon Civic Centre on Tuesday, March 31.

Following a high-profile Equal Access campaign led by Cancer Focus NI and backed by 14 other local cancer charities, an evaluation of the existing system - the Inidividual Funding Request (IFR) - was commissioned by Health Minister Jim Wells last year. Five recommendations have now been made, outlining ways to improve access to drugs that are not routinely available.

The IFR process is intended to provide access to unapproved specialist drugs for patients where there is an agreed clinical need, but it currently denies access to 95% of patients in the initial stages of their request. The new recommendations include plans to remove the 95% barrier, in addition to a proposal to re-introduce prescription charges to pay for a new Specialist Medicines Fund.

The meeting will take place in Lakeview 2 and run from 7pm to 8.30pm.