Cochrane supports reintroduction of prescription charges to pay for cancer drugs

East Belfast Alliance MLA, Judith Cochrane, has commended researchers at the Queen’s University Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology on World Cancer Day 2015.

The Centre consistently contributes to the knowledge base on cancer with world class research projects. Just this month, a breakthrough was made regarding gene activity which could inform treatments with the potential to benefit thousands of bowel cancer patients.

She has also outlined her support for the reintroduction of a small prescription charge that could be used to pay for some of these cancer drugs.

Judith Cochrane MLA said: “The tagline for World Cancer Day 2015 is ‘Not beyond us’. With quality research taking place at Centres such as Queen’s University, solutions to early detection, treatment and care are within reach.

“The irony is that this local research is under threat because global pharmaceutical companies will not fund research in areas where patients do not have access to certain drugs and cannot be enrolled in clinical trials.

“Alliance supports the reintroduction of a small prescription charge and I would personally be happy to pay this small fee for my prescriptions if I knew that it could help to fund cancer drugs which are not currently available in Northern Ireland.

“I think the majority of people here would also support this view, provided there were appropriate exceptions to the charge for those who require long term treatments. Prescription charges would also save money for the Health Department by reducing the amount of unused prescriptions.

“As our public services continue to face severe financial difficulties, we have to make difficult decisions in the best interests of our citizens.

“There did appear to be support among some parties in recent months over the reintroduction of prescription charges. I hope that Jim Wells will give serious consideration to this option, and to using some of the income generated to pay for cancer drugs.

“I have been lobbying the Health Minister and his predecessor to provide greater access to some of the life extending cancer drugs that aren’t available here. This could not only contribute to achieving equality of access to treatments but also help to guarantee the future of our gold standard Centre for Cancer Research.”


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