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Life-Changing Cystic Fibrosis Drug To Be Free On NHS In 30 Days

Life-Changing Cystic Fibrosis Drug To Be Free On NHS In 30 Days

There are over 10,000 cystic fibrosis sufferers in the UK.

Ciara Sheppard

Ciara Sheppard

A US drug company has agreed to provide a life-changing medicine to British cystic fibrosis sufferers on the NHS.

Vertex, who manufacture the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi, struck a deal with the health service - one expected to help thousands of people.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestine. Sufferers have issues including trouble breathing due to frequent lung infections.

Campaigners stage a protest outside Downing Street in central London, as part of a national campaign over the lack of availability of the Orkambi in 2017. (

The condition is caused by mutations in the CFTR gene. This is the gene which makes the CFTR protein, which is involved in regulating the production of mucus and digestive juices.

Orkambi contains active substances lumacaftor and ivacaftor, which increase the amounts of the protein on cells and speeds up its activity.

These actions make mucus and digestive juices less thick, decreasing organ problems for sufferers.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has bowed to pressure after Jeremy Corbyn condemned them for refusing to sell the drug to the NHS at an affordable price.

Speaking to Labour's annual conference in Brighton in September, Corbyn said he'd received a letter from nine-year-old cystic fibrosis sufferer Luis Walker, asking him to help him "on behalf of everyone who needs the medicine."

Cystic fibrosis sufferer Luis Walker, 9, who wrote to Jeremy Corbyn. (

The drug was previously set to cost the NHS £104,000 per year per patients, but the landmark deal now means patients will have access to the drug free of charge with no cap on patient numbers.

NHS England's chief executive Simon Stevens confirmed the drug will be available within 30 days.

Patients eligible for Orkambi will be those aged two or older who have two copies of the F508del mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene.

There are over 10,000 sufferers in the UK and it's estimated around half of those will benefit from the drugs.

The drug will help over 5,000 patients in the country. (

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the deal was "wonderful news" adding: "We've agreed a deal to provide Orkambi and other lifesaving Cystic Fibrosis drugs on the NHS.

"The deal is great value for money for the NHS, and crucially, will improve thousands of lives.

"This deal - on the back of several others this summer - shows why we get some of the best value drugs in the world, and is another reason to be so proud of our NHS."

Men with cystic fibrosis are usually infertile and many women have problems conceiving.

Sufferers in the UK have a life expectancy of 36.6 years according to recent figures.

Another reason to be thankful for the NHS.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Life News, Life, NHS, Health