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Cancer drug “refused due to cost”


A primary care trust (PCT) has been accused of not supplying a renal cancer sufferer with a drug that can stop the disease spreading because it is too expensive.

Stephen Dallison, who is a doctor of physics from Oxford, had an operation to have a cancerous kidney removed earlier this year. He has since been told he has about a year to live after the disease spread to his lymph glands.

Mr Dallison, 33, said his oncologist at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital, which is part of Oxfordshire PCT, has recommended he should be given the £2,500-a-month drug Sutent (sunitinib).

While the drug has been approved at European level, it has not been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the UK’s medicines advisory body.

Mr Dallison said he has been told by a member of the trust’s board that he cannot have the drug “on the grounds of unproven clinical benefit”.

But he said the board has requested further information from his oncologist that could possibly justify the application – “eg, am I a carer, do I have young children etc?”

Mr Dallison said that despite giving an absence of clinical benefit as its reason for refusal, “they (the trust’s board) are requesting non-clinical evidence based on my individual personal living circumstances.

“This apparent contradiction leads me to the belief that the decision was made on grounds of cost.

But an Oxfordshire PCT spokeswoman said: “Currently Oxfordshire PCT does not routinely fund sunitinib for the treatment of renal cancer.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust

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