Wednesday, 20 August 2008

‘Diabolical’ NHS stops vital drug

By Mike Pyle
20/ 8/2008

A grandmother of 15 has said the NHS’s decision to stop funding the drug that has prolonged her life is “disgusting”.

Joan Hughes, 66, was given access to drug Sunitinib in February, following a three-month battle with Berkshire East PCT.

Since starting on the drug Joan’s cancer has gone into remission.

But the NHS has this week announced it is to stop providing the drug to people, although it will continue to supply those already on it.

Joan, of Bywood, Hanworth, said: “I think it’s disgusting. It’s certainly been good to me. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for the drug.

“My cancer has gone into remission now and it might have saved my life.

“I couldn’t have got this far without it. No way.”

Joan’s cancer, which started in her kidneys, is no longer active although it could return at any time.

Joan’s daughter, Helen Peters, 43, of Harmans Water, said: “It’s absolutely diabolical.

“What’s the point of paying into the NHS if they just say ‘we have this wonderful drug, but you can’t have it’?

“Nobody should play God. While the drug is doing good, why are they taking it away and giving a death sentence?”

Cancer Research UK has also spoken out against the decision. A spokesman said: “We’re very disappointed with the decision.”

The NHS made the decision based on recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) saying that the drug, along with three other kidney cancer drugs, does not provide value for money.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said: “The decisions NICE has to make are some of the hardest in public life.

"NHS resources are not limitless and NICE has to decide what treatments represent best value to the patient as well as the NHS.

“Although these treatments are clinically effective, regrettably, the cost to the NHS is such that they are not a cost effective use of NHS resources.”

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