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Northern Ireland pledges to complete a deal for Orkambi and Symkevi

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has today confirmed its intention to complete a deal with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to make life-saving drugs Orkambi and Symkevi available to eligible people with cystic fibrosis (CF) living in Northern Ireland.

This announcement follows a deal being agreed in Scotland over a month ago, and a deal in England being announced last Thursday 24 October.

There are 426 people with CF living in Northern Ireland according to the 2018 Registry report, and approximately 187 could stand to benefit from Orkambi and Symkevi.

Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, said: “Discussions are being commenced with Vertex Pharmaceuticals and subject to that localised agreement being formally signed off, we will be able to start commissioning the drugs as a matter of urgency. “

David Ramsden, Chief Executive at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said: “It is fantastic news that Northern Ireland plans to give access to the life-saving CF drugs Orkambi and Symkevi. This has been a hard-fought battle, and a huge thank you must go to everyone who has been part of this campaign for their persistence and determination to keep fighting.

“But the fight doesn’t end until all four nations in the UK have access, we won’t stop until Wales has a deal. And with the new triple therapy, Trikafta, due to start the licencing process shortly - which could benefit over 90 per cent of people with CF - we will be working to ensure we don’t ever have to wait this long for access to vital new treatments again.”

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