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Sugden calls for Improved Access to Specific Medicines

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Claire Sugden, Independent Assembly candidate for East Londonderry has called on the Health Department to improve access to specific medicines.

Miss Sugden said : “The Health Department must improve access to specific medicines.

Translarna has been recently highlighted as a drug which could change the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Following the recent approval by NICE for this drug, the Department continue to drag their heels.

We are behind the rest of the UK in terms of access to medicines, particularly drugs for treating cancer. New medicines which have been proven to be effective must be made available so that the significant recent improvements in cancer care can be built upon in Northern Ireland.

Money is needed for important initiatives like a Cancer Drugs Fund. However, greater efficiency within the Department would release funds for this. Medicines wastage is burning a hole in the health service pocket. We spend £550million every year on drugs but £18million of this is wasted. The cost of writing a prescription for simple pain relief like paracetamol could be avoided by encouraging the use of high street brands which are very cheap. I have also spoken to health professionals who regularly bin unused boxes of medication.

The Health Department need to be more efficient in how money is spent so that vital services such as access to cancer drugs and other important medicines can be provided. Those with serious illnesses need access to drugs which could change their treatment, and their lives. This is an issue which I will continue to work on.”

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