THE DRUG abiraterone – a breakthrough treatment for advanced prostate cancer – has been approved for use in Northern Ireland it was announced this morning.
Abiraterone is a new type of hormone therapy for men with advanced prostate cancer that has stopped responding to other hormone therapy and chemotherapy treatments.
Studies on abiraterone show that it can prolong the life of men in the final stages of prostate cancer and improve the quality of their lives.
In May, Foyle MP Mark Durkan put pressure on Health Minister Edwin Poots to urge approval for the use of the drug following a National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendation that abiraterone should be made available on the NHS in England and Wales.
Mr Durkan, who has also supported The Prostate Cancer Charity’s campaign at Westminster for the approval of abiraterone, said:
“This is great news and an excellent outcome for men with advanced prostate cancer in Northern Ireland.
“Great credit should be given to the campaigning of The Prostate Cancer Charity and its supporters.
“Following NICE’s acceptance in May that abiraterone should be treated as an ‘end of life’ drug they decided to overturn their draft decision not to fund the drug generally on the NHS in England and Wales.
“Eager to see the implementation of NICE’s recommendation by the Department of Health here, I wrote to Edwin Poots requesting he gave due consideration to NICE’s decision – urging the Minister to approve abiraterone for use in the North as soon as possible.
“I therefore welcome confirmation from the Department of Health that they have endorsed the NICE guidance as applicable in Northern Ireland from this week – 24 July 2012.”
Bryan Jones, Policy and Campaigns Manager for The Prostate Cancer Charity thanked Mr Durkan saying:
“Your support for our campaign in recent months has been vital in helping to achieve this outcome. Thank you for your work on behalf of men with prostate cancer throughout the UK – not least in Northern Ireland.”