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Gemma Lowery has positive meeting with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over potentially life-saving cancer treatment

Bradley Lowery with mum Gemma.
Bradley Lowery with mum Gemma.

Gemma Lowery has met with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to appeal for a life-saving cancer treatment to be made available on the NHS.

The mum of cancer-battler Bradley Lowery traveled to London with close friend and Bradley Lowery Foundation colleague Lynn Murphy to meet with Mr Hunt to discuss whether treatment dinutuximab beta can be available on the NHS.

Gemma Lowery has met with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Gemma Lowery has met with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The meeting has emotional significance for Bradley's family as it was held the day before what would have been the youngster's seventh birthday tomorrow.

The treatment has been assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to see if it can be given to children, but NICE has issued interim guidance saying the drug was too expensive and not cost effective enough.

The treatment is currently available internationally and is believed to give a child an extra 20% chance of survival and can also kill off stubborn tumours.

During his battle with cancer Bradley benefited from the antibody treatment.

The meeting with the Health Secretary follows Gemma's campaign for the antibody treatment for children with neuroblastoma to be made available on the NHS.

Gemma, who set up the Bradley Lowery Foundation to help other poorly children, wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year and was invited to meet Jeremy Hunt.

At the meeting Gemma was also joined by Juliet Gray, a neuroblastoma consultant from Southampton, to explain the importance of the drug.

The foundation says that following their discussion, Mr Hunt has said he will speak with NHS England officials to see if they can speak with NICE, who would then in turn speak to the pharmaceutical company, to see if all parties can come to an agreement to supply the drug on the NHS.

After the meeting Gemma said: "The meeting was very positive, I discussed my concerns about the antibody and why it is important to be available on the NHS and the urgency of it.

"Jeremy was very pleasant, listened to what I had to say and said he would speak to the relevant people.

"He commended me on all the hard work I’m doing with the charity and encouraged me to keep going.

"We now just have to sit and wait and hope that NHS England, NICE and EUSA can come to a suitable agreement, so that children can access the antibody on the NHS. "

Lynn Murphy, head of communications and fundraising for the Bradley Lowery Foundation, said: "We went through what is happening with antibodies and NICE and explained that it is being used across the world and Europe as a front-line treatment.

"We said that the NHS not using this front-line treatment would mean that it is going backwards rather than forwards in terms of treating cancer.

"Jeremy Hunt is going to speak to NHS England, who will speak to NICE, who will speak to pharmaceutical companies.

"Then they will all speak to each other to come to an agreement.

"NICE have already said that the drug is beneficial but very costly.

"Cancer drugs are very complex and so they are going to be more expensive than others.

"We are waiting on a decision to be made to see whether the drug can be available on the NHS.

"It would be life-changing.

"We will definitely find out this year."

Lynn added: "Jeremy Hunt seemed like a generally nice man and he seemed like he really wanted to help.

"It was a good meeting, but was emotional with it being the day before Bradley's birthday."

Bradley, from Blackhall, sadly died aged six after a long battle with cancer neuroblastoma on July 7, 2017.

His mum Gemma will take on a charity skydive at Shotton Airfield tomorrow to pay tribute to Bradley on his birthday and raise vital funds for the foundation.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "Neuroblastoma is a devastating cancer which affects around a hundred children in the UK every year and sadly claimed the life of Bradley Lowery.

“Today the Secretary of State held a meeting with his mum Gemma Lowery to discuss treatment options and praised her work and the Foundation set up in memory of her son to raise awareness and help other sick children.

“We are clear we want to see progress in this area of research so that any breakthrough treatments can be quickly adopted across the health service.”