Gamechanging ovarian cancer drug niraparib now available in Northern Ireland

Gamechanging new ovarian cancer drug niraparib (Zejula®) is now available for use in Northern Ireland. This is the first time that women with ovarian cancer in Northern Ireland will have access to the innovative new treatment that is already funded in England, Scotland and Wales.

Target Ovarian Cancer played an important role in campaigning for better access. Over 200 of our supporters in Northern Ireland wrote to their local representative to ask them to raise the issue with the Department of Health. We also wrote to the Permanent Secretary for Health in Northern Ireland and worked with MLAs to highlight the benefits of this gamechanging new treatment, which can help women to survive better for longer.

Niraparib has been approved for use for women who have relapsed, platinum-sensitive, high grade serous epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer that has responded to the most recent course of platinum-based chemotherapy if:

  • they have a germline BRCA mutation and have had two courses of platinum-based chemotherapy or
  • they do not have a germline BRCA mutation and have had two or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy.

Rebecca Rennison, Target Ovarian Cancer’s Director of Public Affairs and Services, said: “Today’s announcement is a gamechanger in ovarian cancer, and now that new drugs approved on the Cancer Drugs Fund in England have been made available here too, women in Northern Ireland finally have parity with the rest of the UK. With niraparib, we’re taking the fight to ovarian cancer.” 

Carol Bareham, 45 from Larne, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 and hopes to soon become eligible to take niraparib. She said: “When I found out my ovarian cancer had come back I was so upset, but determined to live well for my kids and family, and to continue raising awareness of this disease among women in Northern Ireland. I’m now on my third round of chemotherapy treatments in three years and hoping to get access to niraparib once that has finished.

“In Northern Ireland we’ve always been behind when it comes to newer treatments, and I hope that today’s announcement paves the way not only for better access to new ovarian cancer drugs, but also more research. Women with ovarian cancer deserve better and I would like to thank Target Ovarian Cancer, Northern Ireland Cancer Advocacy Movement (NICAM) and Cancer Focus for the role they have played to get niraparib and other much-needed cancer treatments available here.”