Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 18:29 UK

Cancer woman wins battle for drug

Stephanie Chouette
Stephanie Chouette said she resented the battle

A cancer patient has won an appeal against the NHS in Plymouth which had refused to fund certain treatment.

Stephanie Chouette from Plymstock is suffering from breast cancer which has spread to her liver and lungs.

On a visit to relatives in France this summer, she was offered Avastin and said she was surprised at how much better she felt.

Plymouth NHS Trust has now decided to fund the drug at a cost of 2,400 a month.

Avastin has not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

The drug has been licensed but it is not available on the NHS.

I should not have had to go through all this

Stephanie Chouette

It can be prescribed in the UK in "exceptional" circumstances and Ms Chouette's case was considered, but rejected, by the PCT at an Exceptional Treatment Panel earlier this month.

Plymouth NHS Trust said in a statement on Wednesday: "We are required to take account of the best evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness of new drugs and the policy remains that we will not normally fund Avastin for the treatment of patients with advanced breast cancer.

"That is unlikely to change unless new evidence is brought to bear."

"We should also bear in mind that although Avastin may offer patients a better quality of life, they do not live longer and Avastin is not a cure.

"In addition, this drug can also have serious side-effects because it is highly toxic. Therefore, it is essential that patients and their clinicians discuss fully the risks and potential benefits of this treatment. "

Ms Chouette, 34, who is originally from France, has lived in Britain for four years.

On a visit to relatives in France this summer, she was offered Avastin and told BBC News that she was "sad" that she had had to fight for the drug.

She said: "I was not overjoyed because I should not have had to go through all this.

"I found it unbelievable that Britain does not want to pay for patients to live longer."

She added: "I understand that drugs cost too much, but that is not my fault if they are not given enough money by the government."

Cancer drug access in your area
24 Sep 08 |  Health
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02 Feb 08 |  Cornwall
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19 Dec 07 |  Cornwall

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