Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 16:59 UK

Man fights for kidney cancer drug

David Blackett
David Blackett wants the NHS to prescribe Sutent

A kidney cancer patient has called for an expensive drug to be made available on the NHS in Norfolk.

David Blackett, 65, of Bunwell, is using his retirement savings to pay privately for the cancer drug Sutent.

Norfolk Primary Care Trust said the 27,000 a year treatment was not cost effective and has banned doctors prescribing it on the NHS.

Now his son James is to cycle from Norfolk to Westminster to raise the issue with MPs.

David Blackett, a retired quantity surveyor, said: "The information we have country wide is that the consultants think this is a good drug.

"In fact, some of them even describe it as a wonder drug."

If you are wealthy enough to fund can have access to the drug
David Blackett, cancer patient

Sutent has been licensed in Europe since 2006. But Britain's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has yet to decide whether it is effective enough to warrant the cost to the NHS.

Mr Blackett believes it comes down to money.

"It is...a financial lottery. If you have BUPA or private health care or you are wealthy can have access to the drug," he said.

The NHS prefers to use the cheaper Interferon for kidney cancer, which Mr Blackett believes is less effective than Sutent.

He said that if Interferon was not effective and a person did not have the money to buy Sutent, the message seemed to be "go away and die".

James Blackett is doing a sponsored cycle ride from Tasburgh to Westminster on 31 May to hand in a petition to his MP, Richard Bacon, so the Sutent issue can be raised at government level.

Mr Bacon said the case was disturbing and warranted a review.

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06 Mar 08 |  South West Wales
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24 Aug 07 |  West Midlands

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