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Published on 29 October 2007

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Renal patient refused sunitinib “due to cost”

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

Dr Stephen Dallison, a physicist from Oxford, had 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.

Dr Dallison, 33, said his oncologist at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital, which is part of Oxfordshire PCT, 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.

Dr Dallison said he had been told by a member of the trust’s board he could not have the drug “on the grounds of unproven clinical benefit”.

But Dr Dallison said the board had requested further information from the oncologist that could possibly justify the application – such as whether he was a carer or had young children.

Dr Dallison said that despite giving an absence of clinical benefit as its reason for refusal, the trust’s board were requesting non-clinical evidence based on individual personal circumstances.

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

But a 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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