Page last updated at 21:32 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 22:32 UK

NHS to review cancer drug refusal

Jean Murphy
Jean Murphy says she is frightened of dying without the drug

A judge has asked an NHS panel to review a decision to deny a kidney cancer sufferer a life-enhancing drug.

Jean Murphy, 63, of Salford, turned to London's High Court after Salford Primary Care Trust refused exceptional funding for the drug Sutent.

Her consultant said Mrs Murphy was an ideal candidate for the drug which would give her a extra months to live.

She is the sole carer of her seriously ill husband - a factor the judge said the panel had failed to consider.

Mr Justice Burnett said the commissioning panel who looked at the application had failed to consider the matter "in the round", including the factor that Mrs Murphy was responsible for her husband's day-to-day care and needs.

'Really frightened'

Mrs Murphy believes Sutent, which costs 3,500 per month, could prolong her life.

But the drug has not been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Salford Primary Care Trust will not fund it.

However the drug is available in Cheshire and Merseyside.

"There's no other thing for me to have and I'm frightened of dying - really frightened of dying," Mrs Murphy said when she was first told Salford PCT would not fund the drug for her.

She has undergone several unsuccessful treatments to slow the cancer's progress and in a letter her consultant said she would be an ideal candidate for Sutent.

However, the drug is only available to people in Greater Manchester through clinical trials - and she does not fit the criteria.

Salford-born music mogul Anthony Wilson, who died from kidney cancer in August, was also refused NHS funding for Sutent despite doctors recommending he take it.

The NHS commissioning panel is expected to meet next week to review Mrs Murphy's case.

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