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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Herceptin verdict: reactions
Ann Marie Rogers
Ann Marie Rogers has won her long legal battle to be given Herceptin
Ann Marie Rogers, who has early stage breast cancer, has won her legal fight to be given the drug Herceptin.

The Appeal Court's judgement said it was wrong for her local NHS trust to use the concept of "exceptional circumstances" as a way of deciding who should get the drug.

The ruling does not mean primary care trusts will be forced to pay for the drug, but does set the precedent that giving the drug to some women but not others is irrational.

Charities and patients give their reaction to the verdict.

JOANNA RULE, CANCERBACKUP

"This ruling has huge implications for women with early breast cancer.

"The people who call our helpline want to know that decisions about their treatment depend on clinical need and not on where they live, how much money they have, or how 'exceptional' they are in comparison to someone else.

"In order to fund new cancer treatments, we need proper planning and an innovation fund to take the pressure off PCTs."

JEREMY HUGHES, BREAKTHROUGH BREAST CANCER

"It is vital that this decision is now reinforced by National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance being issued this summer.

"The fast track appraisal of drugs by NICE is to be welcomed but we need to ensure that once approved, guidance is implemented fully and that cancer patients receive the drugs recommended."

PROFESSOR ALEX MARKHAM, CANCER RESEARCH UK

"It is essential that all cancer patients in the UK get access to the best possible treatments, where it is suitable for their particular type of the disease.

"If a consultant feels that Herceptin is the most appropriate treatment for a patient, we would strongly support that decision.

"But, Herceptin is only suitable in about one in five cases of breast cancer.

"So, it's also important we do not create a climate of false hope for women, where Herceptin is seen as a miracle cure which is suitable for everyone with breast cancer."

CHRISTINE FOGG, BREAST CANCER CARE

"It is appalling that a patient felt compelled to take such extreme and exhausting action to access a drug recommended by her doctor.

"We hope today's judgment will provide greater clarity for patients and primary care trusts ahead of a final licensing decision later in the year.

"Clinicians should be able to feel confident that they can prescribe the treatment their patients could benefit from, wherever and whenever they need it."

DR GILL MORGAN, NHS CONFEDERATION

"Today's ruling will have significant implications for the prescription of all unlicensed drugs - not just Herceptin. The NHS will need to take stock of the broader ramifications.

Our members have repeatedly warned that by-passing the licensing and regulatory processes for new drugs puts patient safety at risk
Dr Gill Morgan, NHS Confederation

"The decision to prescribe an unlicensed drug is not taken lightly by clinicians or managers.

"Until today, most funding organisations have made the decision based on individual exceptional circumstances.

"It will take time for organisations to work out the exact implications and the best way to respond.

"We are concerned that the complexity of the judgement and the uncertainty this will cause at a local level could affect the flexibility of local doctors and PCTs to make personalised judgements."

She added: "We must not forget that Herceptin has not yet been licensed for early stage breast cancer.

"The licensing and regulatory processes are there to ensure that new drugs are both safe and effective as well as to protect patients.

"PCTs have a duty to spend taxpayers' money in the most effective way possible. Every pound spent on one expensive drug or treatment is potentially at the expense of other patients. These decisions are extremely difficult and best taken as close to the patient as possible.

"Our members have repeatedly warned that by-passing the licensing and regulatory processes for new drugs puts patient safety at risk and could also mean that less vocal patients and causes will lose out."

JAYNE SULLIVAN, CANCER PATIENT

"It's a wonderful decision. I hope it will have a ricochet effect on every health trust in the UK.

Jayne Sullivan
'I hope this will have a ricochet effect'

"These women are fighting a war in their own homes.

"I think the NHS and the government should dig deep into their pockets and make sure that women receive this drug.

"This drug is the only hope we've got, so please don't take it away."

BARBARA CLARK, BREAST CANCER PATIENT

Ms Clark, 49, a former nurse from Bridgwater, Somerset, had threatened to take her fight to receive Herceptin on the NHS to the European Court of Human Rights.

But Somerset Coast PCT ruled she could have the drug before it reached that stage.

She said she was delighted that Ann Marie Rogers had won her appeal.

"This is absolutely wonderful news for Ann Marie. This is going to have major implications for women in need of Herceptin across the country."




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