Norfolk MP heads drugs campaign

A radical think tank launched today by a Norfolk MP is aiming to ensure that potentially lifesaving cancer drugs are freely available on the NHS in future.

A radical think tank launched today by a Norfolk MP is aiming to ensure that potentially life-saving cancer drugs are freely available on the NHS in future.

For the first time the UK's leading scientific thinkers have been brought together with a cross party group of politicians in a bid to align future government policy with new discoveries.

Top of the list for the group, which has been spearheaded by Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, is the battle against cancer.

Dr Gibson said: “There are new gene discoveries linked to cancer all the time and new drugs to target that - such as Herceptin. But we all know the problems some people have had with getting that drug. What happens when 10 or 11 more drugs like that become available? How are we going to fund the health service to allow them to be freely available?

“There are also other issues such as the availability of radiotherapy in different parts of the country.

“The idea is that by getting scientists, politicians and civil servants to talk to each other it can help influence policy.

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Dr Gibson will launch the independent think tank, called Newton's Apple, in London today.

Among the group's membership is planetary scientist Colin Pillinger - the principal investigator for the Beagle 2 Mars lander project - Guardian Bad Science columnist

Ben Goldacre and Derek Burke, a former UEA vice chancellor.

Trustees of the group, which

will meet twice a month, include popular fertility expert Lord Robert Winston.

Dr Gibson believes scientists should learn how politics works and come out of their laboratories and engage with the world beyond their area of understanding. In turn, politicians, who may understand the value

or science and technology, should

also recognise its pervasive influence on decisions in less obvious spheres.