Macmillan Cancer Support from Northern Ireland has sought for the cancer drugs to be given freely to patients. They also said that such prescriptions will be free from April 1 and appealed to Northern Ireland's new assembly to follow suit.
In Northern Ireland around 9,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. Heather Monteverde from the charity said that it is highly unfair to charge these patients as it causes a huge financial burden on them.
According to Macmillan's research, there is loss of income or increase of cost due to the diagnosis of cancer in nine out of 10 cancer patient's households. Prescription drugs contribute to additional expenditure in the family.
Ms. Monteverde also adds that a combination of factors like reduced income, increased expenditure of drugs adds up to the misery of the families affected by cancer. Additional costs include significant travel, parking costs, the costs of additional clothes, wigs, extra heating costs and child care. Hence she feels that if charities don't help these people, the situations are sure to get worse.
Macmillan's research suggested that as patients are not getting proper access to the financial benefits which they are entitled to, they are forced to incur additional expenditure. This research also points out that in Northern Ireland alone 23% of cancer patients do not make a claim which amounts to £1.3m in unclaimed benefits.
In Scotland, Macmillan participated in a consultation on prescription charges and is awaiting the results of a review of NHS prescription charges and exemption arrangements.