Belfast Telegraph

Melanie's victory in battle for cancer drug great, now we need to tackle issue of availability and funding of all such medicines

Editor's Viewpoint

Everyone will be delighted to see that Melanie Kennedy, a single mother-of-two, will at last receive an expensive cancer drug on the NHS and that this will fulfil her hopes for a longer life expectancy.

However, it is manifestly unfair that she has had to raise around £10,000 of her own money to obtain the drug Kadcyla before it became freely available on the NHS in Northern Ireland.

This means that hundreds of other women are now eligible to receive this treatment free.

Melanie eventually raised around £26,000 by crowdfunding, and hopes that the remaining amount will be made available to others in need of drugs which are freely available in the rest of the UK, but not here.

It is wrong she should have been under any other pressure than caring for her two boys Josh (16) and AJ (5), and concentrating on her health.

The availability of free medicines is a really huge problem for the NHS, but thankfully research is always developing immensely potent new drugs.

Yet the major issue of their availability remains.

While the NHS is built on the founding principle of availability at the point of use, there needs to be a wider conversation nationally about funding.

Anyone who needs such drugs, or has loved ones who do so, can see the point of having them available, and other people might feel the same because they too, or their families, might need the same help some day. People need to ask themselves if they would pay, say, a penny or two on the base rate of tax, or levy a nominal charge to meet the need?

It is great to see that the inspirational Melanie is receiving the help she deserves.

It would also be good to think that others do not have to struggle so strenuously for the drugs which, they believe, could give them precious extra time with their families and friends.

We all share the responsibility in ensuring that this will be the case.

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