A WHITEHAVEN man battling cancer has had a lifeline appeal for treatment turned down by health bosses.
Already denied NHS funding for the drug Avastin, Cumbria Primary Care Trust (PCT) has now turned Michael Kennett down again on appeal despite it being the only remaining avenue open to the 66-year-old, of Springfield Avenue, to potentially prolong his life.
Michael was denied the drug because it is not deemed to be “cost effective”. Now the family faces footing the £20,000 to £40,000 bill themselves.
Avastin can slow down tumours’ growth but the drug is not recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for treatment of certain types of cancer.
Michael was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2001 and underwent an operation. But the cancer spread to his liver and gall bladder, requiring a further operation. Six months later the cancer was found in Michael’s lungs and he was more recently told it has returned to his liver.
The family are frustrated that they were not allowed to attend and make representation at last week’s appeal – in fact, they were only told the exact date it was taking place the day before.
Leanne Graham, Michael’s daughter, says the family have not had a fair hearing and is considering court action. They are also set to re-appeal but in the meantime Michael’s need for the drug cannot wait any longer.
“This has dragged my dad down something chronic,” said Leanne, of Cleator Moor. “It’s been 10 weeks but we can’t wait any longer.
“By some means we are going to try and fund this drug for as long as we can. They said there wasn’t enough evidence to fit the exceptional criteria. But the primary care trust won’t tell us what the exceptional criteria are.
“No one has ever had funding for this drug from Cumbria PCT,” said Leanne.
“We weren’t even allowed to attend the appeal so we don’t know what was discussed and we have not had a chance to put a case together. Some PCTs allow people to attend.
“We will re-appeal but I don’t know if it will do any good. It is very frustrating. We have had brilliant support from people locally but I can totally understand why people give up fighting – I have never felt so defeated by something ever.”
Michael’s situation, which was revealed by The Whitehaven News some weeks ago, was this week also featured in The Times.
Leanne would like people to write to the Primary Care Trust with their views on the subject and to pledge their support for people to be given a fair hearing.
A spokesman for Cumbria Primary Care Trust said this week: “We cannot comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentially but appreciate that for patients, families, carers and the public the decision over the use of different drugs can be highly emotional.
“NHS Cumbria operates under a framework set by the Department of Health. The trust has to take account of guidance from NICE and other professional advisory bodies when making decisions about which drugs to fund.
“In order to assess each treatment fairly, NICE has to look at the benefit of these treatments and at the effectiveness of getting this benefit in the long-term.
“NICE, the Scottish Medicines Consortium and both of the local NHS cancer networks which cover Cumbria do not recommend the use of Avastin for specific types of cancer.”
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