UPDATE: Women in Northern Ireland now have access to Niraparib, and the first patients in Northern Ireland have received the drug.
Cancer patients in Northern Ireland are set to have the same access to drugs as the rest of the UK, the Department of Health has announced.
Drugs approved by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) for use through the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF) in England will now be considered in line with the countries existing endorsement of NICE recommendations, and be equally accessible there.
Northern Ireland usually follows decisions made by NICE, which sets out guidelines for the NHS in England and Wales. In cases where a drug is yet to be fully approved by NICE, it can be made available for use under the CDF.
Previously CDF approved drugs were not available to use in Northern Ireland, meaning patients would have to wait for full approval by NICE which can take up to two years. This has meant that cancer patients have been left unable to access life-extending drugs, such as Niraparib, while they have been approved for use in England, Wales and Scotland.
Ovarian Cancer Action is delighted that patients in Northern Ireland are set to have the same access to drugs as the rest of the UK. It is reported that implementation of this will take place at some point this financial year. We will continue to campaign until women with ovarian cancer have the same access to life-extending drugs including Niraparib and urge the Department of Health to prioritise making this happen as soon as possible.