Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Treatable, not terminal illnesses

Ensuring that people with terminal illnesses have access to medicine is an issue that should concern us all, writes Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP.

On Wednesday last week I introduced a Westminster Hall debate titled – Access to Medicine for People with Terminal Illnesses this is such an important subject; and is something that I and others wanted to raise.

It is unacceptable that so many people, when diagnosed with an illness, find that there are no drugs available to help them overcome their condition.

I was inspired to call for this debate by my constituent Les Halpin, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in May 2011. From his diagnosis and an intellectual curiosity to “understand the disease that is probably going to kill me.” He has founded the excellent Empower: Access to Medicine campaign. As a patient led movement I believe that the campaign has a real role to play in bringing all stakeholders together.

MND is a terrible disease, for which there is no cure, and there has been only one drug developed to treat MND in over 20 years. This is a clear example of why the debate was held. In order to create more drugs and for them to receive NICE approval many tests must take place. Les is arguing that people with terminal illnesses should be allowed to participate in these tests by personally choosing to take a drug before it has been approved.

One of the main points that we wanted to raise is the possibility of allowing terminal patients to trial drugs at an earlier stage. Patients would be fully informed of all potential side effects and actively partake in decisions relating to their care which also have the prospect of helping other people with the results learnt from each trial.

From the debate we have helped to ensure that these issues remain firmly on the agenda of ministers. I am aware that many colleagues of all parties, in both Houses, have taken a keen interest in these and related issues.

What we need are not terminal illnesses but treatable illnesses.

For more information on Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MPs speech visit his website –

or contact his Researcher Charlie Smoothy –

More information about the Empower: Access to Medicine Campaign can be found on their website -