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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Trust refuses to fund cancer drug
John Quance
Mr Quance's appeal has been turned down by the PCT
A man with kidney cancer may have to sell his home to continue to pay for his medical treatment.

Doctors believe 57-year-old John Quance's medication will prolong his life, but Cornwall Primary Care Trust (PCT) will not agree to fund it.

The PCT said Sutent, which costs 22,000 for nine months' treatment, has not been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Mr Quance from Roche said he was disappointed by the trust's decision.

He has cashed in his prison service pension and remortgaged his house to buy his medication, but fears he will probably have to sell his home.

It's a very callous way to treat terminally-ill cancer patients
Rose Woodward, Kidney Cancer Support Group

Mr Quance told BBC News: "I've worked all my life. I've been in the forces, the prison service and the fire service for 30-odd years and I feel a little bit abandoned.

"The staff and the hospital have been excellent, but it's disappointing not to get funding when it's been proved it is working."

Sutent has been licensed but because it has not been approved for NHS funding, the PCT said it was simply too expensive.

Martin Cooper from the Peninsula Cancer Network, who is a consultant oncologist at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, said the NHS was "cash limited".

"PCTs have to judge how they use their resources wisely," he said.

"They don't feel in this case there is enough proven benefits from this drug for them to prescribe it for this unfortunate man."

The PCT said it was unable to comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality, but it sympathised with patients and their families.

John and Diane Quance
Mr and Mrs Quance say they will do whatever it takes to fund the drug

In a statement it said: "The NHS usually only funds drugs which are approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

"NICE ensures drugs prescribed to patients have gone through appropriate clinical trials and are known to be safe and effective before being prescribed widely to patients. To date, Sutent (Sunitinib) has not been approved."

Mr Quance has found more than 100 patients elsewhere in the UK who are getting Sutent paid for by the NHS, but his appeal has been turned down by the PCT's special cases review panel.

Rose Woodward from the Kidney Cancer Support Group described the situation as "appalling".

She said: "Even in Mexico and Korea this drug is available, but not in the South West of England.

"It's a very callous way to treat terminally-ill cancer patients."

Mr Quance's wife, Diane, said they were determined to continue with the treatment and would not let the PCT's decision stop them.

"Whatever it takes, we'll fund it," she said.

"If they won't help us, then we'll have to sell our home, but we'll fund it and we will have a longer life together if it's possible."

John Quance says he feels "abandoned" by the NHS

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