Fight for life-saving drugs
Last updated at 01:00, Friday, 05 October 2007
CANCER sufferers in West Cumbria will still have to fight for drugs which may prolong their lives.
Despite a Workington man winning his appeal for lung cancer drug Tarceva to be supplied to him by Cumbria Primary Care Trust after a four-month fight, anyone else wanting the same drug would have to go through the same procedure.
Tarceva has been denied to patients in England, though it is free in Scotland, because it is not approved by the national health watchdog, NICE.
Harry White, 73, of Westfield Drive, has won his fight for the trust to fund the £1,600-a-month medication.
But Cumbria PCT said every patient who wants the drug will have to go through the same procedure as Mr White.
He was diagnosed with an incurable form of lung cancer last May.
He was later offered a trial of new drug Tarceva, which can relieve symptoms and prolong life, but was told it was not available on the NHS.
He and his family had to find £1,600 a month to fund the medication. They believe it is because of the drug that Mr White is still here today.
After a formal appeal, the PCT has now overturned its decision and agreed to pay for a course of treatment.
A trust spokeswoman said that sufferers will have to go through the same procedure as Mr White to have a chance to get the drug.
Andrea Lowden, head of medicines management at the PCT, said policy on drugs is decided case by case, by a commissioning panel.
Mr and Mrs White received a letter from their GP, Bradley Cheek, on Monday, confirming that the trust will pay for the treatment for the next few months.
It will then review its decision and, if the drug is deemed to be working, could continue the funding.
The news came on the same day as NICE announced it will now review its original recommendation over the use of Tarceva. Mrs White said that could have been a factor in their appeal.
She said: “As far as I’m concerned it was worth the fight, I can’t tell you how delighted we both are.
“I broke down when I read the letter. These last few months have been so hard but we’ve had to do it for Harry.
“I won’t be happy until I’ve got the tablets in my hand and am not having to pass over all that money but it’s a huge relief to get this far.
Since Mr White started his treatment this spring, his family, friends and strangers have rallied round to raise money.
Mrs White thanked everyone who has helped them - including Workington councillor Denis Robertson who donated his annual authority allowance - and said the money wouldn’t be wasted.
* IN CUMBRIA, there are 300 deaths from lung cancer each year and 65 deaths a year in Allerdale.
The NHS says one person in 16, with a Workington postcode between the ages of 70 and 75, are likely to develop lung cancer. The UK average is one in 23.
First published at 16:42, Thursday, 24 January 2008
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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