Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 12:15 UK

'We'll sell our house for this drug'

Kidney scan with tumour marked in green
The treatments are used for advanced kidney cancers

A row has broken out over the funding of four drugs for advanced kidney cancer after the drugs advisory body NICE said they should not be available on the NHS.

Andrew Crabb, from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, got the news on the first anniversary of his diagnosis with the disease - but says he will do everything he can to carry on receiving his drug.

The 49-year-old former bricklayer, and his wife Diane, had hoped that the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence decision would help them face an uncertain future with some financial security.

Now they face the prospect of having to find more than 3,000 every six weeks to pay for Sutent, one of the four drugs covered by the guidance.

They say they may review things in January, but that's going to be too late for some people
Andrew Crabb

Fundraisers have already helped him pay for the first three courses of the drug, which he says have made a massive difference to his health, but they cannot carry on providing money forever.

Andrew said: "Basically we'll have to sell our house to get it. I don't know what else we can do."

News of NICE's decision had reduced the couple to tears this morning, said Diane.

"I've only seen him cry twice over this illness - once when he was diagnosed, and then today.

"It's devastating for us, because three months ago, before Sutent, he was a dying man. Now he is unrecognisable, almost back to normal - it's clearly working for him."

Andrew, who has three children and nine grandchildren, had at one stage been told he might not live to see Christmas 2007.

"They told me my cancer was like a galloping racehorse. It was so aggressive."

Retreating cancer

He took part first in a trial for another of the drugs, temsirolimus, which made his tumours shrink but weakened his bones and then started on Sutent in May this year.

"The difference is amazing - I'm driving again, even cycling and fishing, and taking my grand-kids to the park for hours."

His latest scan again shows his tumours mostly in retreat.

"If it wasn't benefiting me, then that would be my problem. But it is benefiting me, and I've paid my tax and national insurance all my life, so why can't I have it?

"They say they may review things in January, but that's going to be too late for some people."

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