Nick Herbert backs local mum's cancer campaign
Nick Herbert has pledged to back Storrington mum Jemma Peacock’s campaign to get a life-extending cancer drug reinstated.
The Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs met mother-of-two Jemma and husband Tony on Friday (27 March) to discuss how to ensure that her campaign is debated in Parliament.
Jemma’s ‘100,000 Voices’ campaign is calling for Regorafenib to be reinstated after it was withdrawn from the Cancer Drugs Fund list by NHS England.
31-year old Jemma has been diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer, Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumour or GIST, and wants the life-extending drug to be available should it become necessary for her future treatment.
Jemma’s e-petition has attracted over 100,000 signatures, meaning that the issue is entitled to be considered for debate in the House of Commons. However, an MP’s support is needed before a backbench debate is granted.
Mr Herbert said: "I'm delighted that Jemma has achieved this amazing level of support and I will certainly back her application for a debate to the Backbench Business Committee when it comes up.
"As Parliament has been dissolved this will now be after the election, but if I am re-elected I will take this up as Jemma's MP, as I have taken up concerns on her behalf before.
"Like so many people I have been moved by Jemma's plight and feel that the case to make this cancer drug available should be heard in Parliament.
"The Government has provided a huge sum, £340 million, in a cancer drugs fund which was introduced in 2011 and has helped thousands of patients, and I appreciate thatdifficult decisions about which drugs to approve have to be taken, but we need the Regorafenib drug reinstated for those like Jemma who are suffering from this rare form of intestinal cancer."
Following a review of cancer drugs, NHS England decided that they would remove the drug Regorafenib from their register. However, since the ‘100,000 Voices’ campaign took off, and with help from the charity GISTSupport UK, this decision is on hold pending further review.
Jemma was diagnosed in 2010 when she was pregnant with her second child. She was recommended a series of three drugs and was expecting to be moved onto Regorafenib at some stage during her treatment to prolong her life and stem the growth of the tumours until a cure is found.
The drug costs £4,500 per month for each patient, of which it is understood there are just 29 in the country at present. Different drugs are recommended for GIST, but as the cancer becomes resistant to one drug the patient is then moved onto the next one.
The Cancer Drugs Fund was set up by the Government in 2010 with an original budget of £200 million a year, supporting around 60,000 patients. The Fund will be increased to £340 million in April and is helping to treat patients with the best drugs available.
Mr Herbert told Jemma that, if re-elected, he would work with other MPs including Sir Nicholas Soames to apply for the debate as soon as possible in the new Parliament. Sir Nicholas pledged his support for the campaign after meeting his constituent, Michelle Waller, whose husband Sam may also need Regorafenib to treat his cancer.
Jemma said: “It was lovely meeting Nick and knowing that we have his support is great. It is an amazing achievement from everyone to get the 100,000 signatures we needed for the e-petition, and the help from Gist Support UK has been tremendous.
“I’m looking forward to taking more of a back seat as things move forward and I urge anyone reading this to bookmark the GIST Support UK website – www.gistsupportuk.com - where all the latest news and updates will be posted.”
1. Photograph – Jemma Peacock with Nick Herbert
2. For more information about Jemma Peacock see her website www.jemmapeacock.org.
3. For more information about GIST and GIST Support UK see www.gistsupportuk.com.
4. For more information about petitions and backbench debates see http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/backbench-business-committee/e-petitions-/.