Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds of cystic fibrosis patients could receive new drugs after deal signed

Health chiefs have held ‘constructive’ discussions with manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals and an offer on pricing has been accepted.

Richard Pengelly (Liam McBurney/PA)
Richard Pengelly (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

The first of almost 300 cystic fibrosis patients in Northern Ireland could receive new drugs within weeks, the Department of Health has said.

Health chiefs have held “constructive” discussions with manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals and an offer on pricing has been accepted.

The drugs help to keep a healthy balance of salt and water in the organs, particularly the lungs.

Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said: “Constructive discussions have been held with manufacturer Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the company has made a formal offer on pricing which is equivalent to the agreement reached with NHS England.

“This offer has been accepted today by the Regional Pharmaceutical Procurement Service on behalf of all the health and social care trusts and a formal agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals will be finalised and signed in the very near future.

“Arrangements are being put in place to ensure clinicians will be able to begin prescribing the drugs to the first eligible patients within the next few weeks.”

It is estimated that more than 270 patients will be eligible for the new drugs under the agreement, he said.

They are Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease which causes the body to produce thick mucus, including in the lungs, which can have a wide range of effects.

Nick Medhurst, head of policy at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “This is a great news for people with cystic fibrosis and their families in Northern Ireland. Our attention remains on Wales where we want to see a deal done without delay.

“We must end the ongoing anguish for those with cystic fibrosis and their families still waiting for access to these lifesaving drugs.”

PA

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