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Published on 11 September 2008

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Cancer patient wins drug battle

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The life-and-death “postcode lottery” of drug provision may still be in the balance after a High Court judge ruled in favour of a cancer patient seeking treatment.

West Sussex Primary Care Trust had refused to fund treatment with the new drug Revlimid, which costs GBP 4,300 a month, even though it is available in neighbouring East Sussex and elsewhere.

After a desperate “end of the road” legal challenge by 55-year-old Colin Ross, from Horsham, an interim order was made by the judge, who described the trust’s refusal as “logically flawed” and unlawful.

Because he is so ill, Mr Ross should start receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden hospital immediately.

Meanwhile, the trust is considering whether to appeal the groundbreaking ruling. If an appeal is successful, it could threaten further treatment.

Judge Simon Grenfell overturned the trust’s decision that Revlimid would not be cost-effective and that Mr Ross’s case should not be treated as “exceptional”.

He decided that the “exceptions policy” operated by the trust was unlawful as it appeared to require applicants for treatment to be virtually unique, rather than exceptional.

He also decided that the trust’s reviewing panel “fell into error” when considering the cost-effectiveness of the drug and its clinical efficacy.

Copyright PA Business 2008

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