Sign to ease suffering

MORE than 1000 signatures from the Coffs Coast Area are travelling across three states in a bid to ease the suffering of Australians with Crohn's disease.

Last week Rhoma Kelly's quest to have the drug Infliximab listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for Crohn's sufferers reached a pinnacle.

The Boambee grandmother has collected more than 1000 signatures on a petition which calls on the Federal Government to put the drug Remicade/Infliximab on the PBS. This would make it affordable for people with Crohn's disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions.

The petition is being forwarded to Melbourne campaigner Craig Oosterhof, who will in turn deliver Mrs Kelly's signatures along with almost 20,000 others from people across Australia to the Federal Minister for Health, Tony Abbott.

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract and can be extremely debilitating, with symptoms that include chronic diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating.

Remicade/Infliximab can help more than 80 per cent of sufferers, who in Australia number more than 45,000. The drug is registered with the PBS for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but not for Crohn's.

Mrs Kelly said, however, that because the drug benefited 82 per cent of Crohn's patients, it should be subsidised through the PBS.

She is expecting a decision in the next week or two.

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