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Published on 4 September 2007

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EU to probe drug “postcode lottery”

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An MEP has asked the European Commission to probe the “postcode lottery” surrounding the funding of cancer drugs.

Conservative East Midlands MEP Chris Heaton-Harris claims denying patients the cancer drug Sutent because of where they live breaks EU antidiscrimination laws.

Mr Heaton-Harris is backing a former headteacher who is using his life savings to fund the medication after his primary care trust (PCT) refused to pay for it.

Russ Jones, from Rugby, pays £3,400 a month for his daily tablets of Sutent because he believes it improves his quality of life.

Mr Heaton-Harris said: “There are rafts of antidiscrimination laws that come from Europe, and I can’t believe that under European law you can discriminate against who can get life-enhancing cancer treatment and who can’t on the basis of where they live.”

In a statement, the trust said: “Warwickshire Primary Care Trust have a duty for ensuring all its resident population are in receipt of healthcare services.

“The main focus for the Individual Cases Panel was to consider the outcome for Mr Jones, and was not concerned with creating a precedent for the PCT that would be unaffordable.

“In this instance the panel concluded that there was insufficient evidence of either clinical or cost effectiveness.”

Copyright © PA Business 2007

Chris Heaton-Harris



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