Page last updated at 09:41 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Relief over kidney cancer drug approval

Clive Stone says he's overjoyed at the decision
Clive Stone says he's overjoyed at the decision
Kidney cancer patient Clive Stone is celebrating victory, after the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved the drug Sunitinib.

Mr Stone has spent the last year fighting two battles - one against kidney cancer, another for the drug that might prolong his life.

He said: "I'm absolutely overjoyed. It's been a hard slog to get this decision changed."

The drug Sunitinib, known commercially as Sutent, was originally rejected last year for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer along with three other drugs.

It should now be available to patients like Clive, who is soon to undergo an operation on a tumour, as early as June this year.

The 61-year-old, from Freeland near Witney, Oxfordshire, formed the Justice for Kidney Cancer Patients group last year. It is now a country-wide network.

Although he welcomes NICE's decision to approved the drug, it's a bitter-sweet victory.

"I just feel so sorry for the families who have lost their loved ones, having been denied a chance to at least try this drug," said Mr Stone.

"It doesn't work in every case but it's the only drug we've got."

Turning point

The decision to approve the drug, also known as Sutent, applies to England and Northern Ireland. Wales has already approved it, but it is still not available in Scotland.

Mr Stone organised a march to London last August, to put pressure on politicians to overturn NICE's initial refusal to approve the drug.

Please, please, please let people have (the drug) now while they need it
Clive Stone

"I think that was a turning point in our campaign," he said.

"I told Alan Johnson that he'd be able to look out of his window and see a lot of sick patients marching for a drug they can already get in Romania."

Despite Mr Stone's ill health, he's determined to keep fighting for the drug to be released to patients in Oxfordshire.

"We really hope is that the Primary Care Trust immediately makes these drugs available," he said.

"Please, please, please let people have it now while they need it."

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