A TERMINALLY ill man from Tetbury has launched a campaign to allow patients with serious and life-threatening conditions to get access to experimental drugs.

Les Halpin was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in May 2011 and this week launched formal consultation on The Halpin Protocol – a scheme which he hopes will allow patients to make their own informed choices around the risks of participating in clinical trials.

This is the latest stage of Mr Halpin’s Empower: Access to Medicine campaign he launched after discovering the only drug available for his disease was the same one prescribed to a friend who died of MND 20 years ago.

He said an overhaul of the methods by which medicines are tested is needed so people with serious diseases can get treatment quicker.

"For those of us with life threatening or rare illnesses the ‘risk-return’ ratio is different and drug regulations should be adapted to allow such people to try out new drugs at an earlier stage of development as well as innovative, new combinations of drugs," he said.

He added pharmaceutical companies were bound by strict legal frameworks, which made this process both lengthy and costly.

"I believe a mechanism should be devised that provides a framework for patients suffering from certain life-threatening diseases to make their own informed choices about the risks of participation in clinical trials of unregistered drugs and therapies," he said.

"This will require the collaborative participation of patients, regulators, physicians and the developers of drugs and therapies."

If the scheme is approved it will allow patients to agree with doctors and medicine developers to take part in early clinical trials.

The consultation was launched in Parliament on Monday by Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown described Mr Halpin as "a most inspiring man".

"When I first met Les almost a year ago, he told me with absolute clarity what his future was, he said. "He knew he was going to die, he just could not say when."

"As a statistician Les knew how long it took for a drug to come to market and how much it would cost. Ten years and well over £1million is too long for someone with a rare life threatening disease to wait."

He added he was keen to throw his support behind the campaign.

"I fully believe that we should be allowing patients the right to try drugs that are in the final stages of testing that may not have quite made it to the market," he said.

For more information visit accesstomedicine.co.uk