Health Minister Edwin Poots today visited cystic fibrosis patients in Belfast city Hospital to see first-hand how they have benefited from the availability of a new drug.
The new drug Ivacaftor benefits sufferers who have the G551D genetic mutation, also known as the ‘Celtic Gene’, which is particularly common in Ireland.
The Minister said “Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one of the UK's most common life-threatening inherited diseases. I am committed to improving access to treatment and services for all patients, and I welcome the availability of this new drug to aid the condition. It is vital that people with cystic fibrosis receive appropriate healthcare, enabling them to live longer, healthier lives.
“The Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency are currently working with the specialist service for cystic fibrosis in the Belfast HSC Trust to ensure that any clinically suitable patients can access Ivacaftor.”
Ivacaftor is the first in a new class of medicines and targets the underlying cause of CF rather than simply treating its symptoms. It is the first drug aimed at the basic defect in CF to show an effect.
Ivacaftor emerged from an international research project which in June 2011 announced the development of a ground-breaking treatment for CF.
The study, which was carried out by scientists at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Ulster, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and teams of researchers in Europe, USA and Australia found significant improvement in lung function, quality of life and a reduction in disease flare-up for those receiving the new drug treatment.