Voluntary Sector: Cancer charity steps up drug approval campaign

The International Myeloma Foundation is embarking on a media relations and public affairs campaign to address the problem of 'postcode prescription' for cancer drugs.

The charity, for sufferers of the rare blood cancer myeloma, plans to step up its lobbying of the Government to boost the funding and resources of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which approves new drugs for prescription.

It wants to speed up the process of approving drugs.

'Some hospitals refuse to risk prescribing new drugs until they have been approved by NICE - despite government guidance allowing them to do so,' said Myeloma Foundation executive director Eric Low.

The charity is particularly concerned that Velcade, a new drug for myeloma sufferers awaiting approval by NICE, is, it says, only available to patients living near certain hospitals.

Charity supporters will be sent car flags and 'Access Denied' postcards to send on to local MPs, Primary Care Trusts, the Department of Health and national cancer director Mike Richards in a bid to drum up support for an Early Day Motion. Newspapers and radio stations in Birmingham, Newcastle, Belfast and the Thames Valley, where Velcade is currently unavailable, will be particularly targeted with case studies and interviews with Myeloma Foundation patron Maureen Lipman CBE.

Velcade is marketed by Ortho Biotech and Janssen-Cilag in the UK.

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