Janice Wrigglesworth, Jacky Pickles and Marie Morton, from West Yorkshire, met while having cancer treatment. They had myeloma (a cancer of the bone marrow plasma cells) and wanted to receive a new treatment called Velcade. Jacky, a midwife, had been part of a successful trial of the drug which had slowed the advance of the disease and helped restore her health to normal. The new drug was only available to NHS cancer patients in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The women – nicknamed The Velcade Three – campaigned for cancer patients in England to get access to the life-prolonging treatment and said they would rely on the protections in the Human Rights Act to take their case to court. Janice Wrigglesworth said: “We’re fighting for our lives….. We will go through the European Court of Human Rights if we need to – although we are hoping the Government steps in before then.”
The Health Secretary responded to their campaign and asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the government’s health expert, to issue guidance on the use of Velcade. Thanks to the women’s fight for their human rights, the drug is now available to all NHS patients in the UK with multiple myeloma who need it.