I am pleased to announce that next Tuesday, 20th October, MPs will take part in a Westminster Hall Debate on the availability of cancer drugs. This has been sought by DUP MP Jim Shannon, a big advocate of cancer patients, following his attendance at a dinner to discuss access to medicines for blood and rarer cancers earlier in the year. The debate will give MPs the opportunity to discuss the significant problems many cancer patients in England are currently facing in terms of gaining access to the medicines they need.

You will have read about the fight I have taken up to help 43 year old Birmingham father of four, Khalid Younis, gain access to ponatinib for his resistant Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), including the meeting we had last week with his local MP, Roger Godsiff. I have alerted Roger to the fact that this debate is happening and asked if he can raise Khalid’s case with the Minister to see if we can progress the situation further with the Government and NHS England. In addition, an Access CML Drugs briefing has gone out to a number of MPs I’ve met before, or who have an interest in CML, stem cell transplantation or the ending of the Cancer Drugs Fund. The briefing highlights our key issues and the inequity of access English patients currently face compared to those in Scotland and Wales. You can download the briefing below.

Whilst the debate won’t focus solely on CML or blood cancer, I hope Khalid’s story will form part of the discussion and be used to demonstrate the problems which exist with the current evaluation methods used for cancer medicines in England, particularly with the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) refusing to appraise any new medicines between now and when the Fund ends in March 2016. I hope the issue of how the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the CDF work (or don’t!) together will also be discussed; any future system of evaluation for cancer medicines needs to be able to work for cancers with small patient populations and previous drugs have, sadly, fallen down the gap between NICE and the CDF.

I would encourage everyone to contact their local MP and ask them to attend and contribute to the debate. You can find out who your local MP is here. The more MPs that attend, the greater the level of awareness there will be amongst parliamentarians of the issues we face.

I will post again following the debate.

Kris Griffin – founder of Access CML Drugs