Member Of Staff Campaigns In Westminster For Cancer Patients

Our director of marketing and blood cancer campaigner, Kris Griffin met with parliamentarians last week to ask for their support in helping patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia access vital, life extending medicines.

The meetings, held with Mark Tami MP and Lord Avebury, provided an opportunity for Kris to highlight the fact that patients in England currently are missing out on innovative new treatments whilst patients in Wales have full access.

Kris, who himself has chronic myeloid leukaemia, or CML, has found a treatment programme which is currently very effective and keeps his condition in remission, enabling him to lobby decision makers as well as undertake his daily role at Ormiston Forge Academy.

Commenting on the meetings, Kris said:

“It was excellent to meet Mark Tami MP and Lord Avebury to update them on the situation for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia. Access to medicines is vital if patients are to live well and remain in work, and at the moment patients in England are missing out. New drugs such as ponatinib (Iclusig®) have the potential to offer patients another treatment option when others have failed and when the only option for many is a stem cell transplant.

“The system for appraising drugs in England, NICE, says that there are too few patients for them to even consider making ponatinib available on the NHS, they won’t even look at the figures. It doesn’t seem fair that across the border in Wales all patients can be prescribed the drug when here it’s not going to be looked at.

“Both parliamentarians were also supportive of my bid to get insurance companies to offer CML patients life insurance, as many of us are being turned down. We’re not asking for the insurers to pay out on CML-related deaths, but many patients can’t get mortgages without life insurance, so it’s vital that we can be accepted with exclusions for our condition.”

Chronic myeloid leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells, a stem cell disorder. CML is incurable, but with treatment can go into remission and patients can remain symptom free, leading full lives with average (non CML) life expectancy. CML is now largely treated with targeted drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) which have led to dramatically improved long-term survival rates, delaying disease progression and prolonging survival of patients.

Kris was diagnosed with CML in 2008, aged 32. He’s since become an experienced patient advocate, fundraiser and parliamentary lobbyist. He married Kelly in 2008 and became a Dad to Luca in 2011, he’s worked at Forge since 2013. Kris is treated at Kidderminster hospital and takes 2 tablets each morning to keep his leukaemia in remission.

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