Funeral of cancer campaigner


THE REMAINS of cancer treatment campaigner Cathy Durkin (41) will arrive at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Dublin’s Donaghmede at 5.30pm today. Her requiem Mass will be at 10am tomorrow, followed by the funeral to Glasnevin crematorium.

Ms Durkin died at St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin on Saturday and is survived by her husband, Michael, their three children, Alex, Alyssa and Conor, her parents, sisters and brother. She was diagnosed with cancer last year and campaigned for the drug Ipilimumab to be made available to patients who had a very aggressive form of malignant melanoma. Her family raised €50,000 to secure treatment for her.

The drug had been turned down by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics last year on cost grounds, but a campaign by oncologists and patients, including Ms Durkin, led to a change of mind.

The centre had claimed that, at €85,000 a patient, the drug was too expensive and noted that a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a median survival rate of 3.7 months for patients taking it.

Some oncologists including Prof John Crown argued in favour of the drug, saying it led to a cure in a minority of patients while others were kept alive long enough to try new treatments.

The Health Service Executive and the National Cancer Control Programme announced last May that agreement had been reached with the drug’s manufacturers, Bristol-Myers Squibb, following negotiations going back to November. Sixty Irish patients are to be treated with it this year.