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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 12:53 GMT
Wales: Cancer campaign
Brian Meechan
Brian Meechan
The Politics Show Wales

Jayne Sullivan
Jayne Sullivan's campaign continues

We follow Jayne Sullivan, the woman who is battling to have the breast cancer drug Herceptin made available to everyone who needs it across the country.

Jayne Sullivan meets the Health Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, when she will press him to end, what she calls, the postcode lottery that means some women in Wales have access to the drug and others do not.

She also wants to make sure that women with breast cancer are routinely tested to check if it is Her2, which is the type that can be helped by Herceptin.

In a frank interview, the 45-year-old mother of two, who is still receiving treatment for breast cancer, says making sure women get the best care is driving her campaign.

"It is a dreadful situation. I am fighting for my life and also concerned about my daughter. This is another aspect of the Her2 gene.

"I worry whether she will be affected. I should not be doing this but I have to.

"I have started it and I will finish it."

Jayne Sullivan ended her 24 hour vigil at the Assembly but continued to take calls from other women who she says have been tested and told they would benefit from Herceptin.

Some Local Health Boards (LHBs) in Wales are refusing to provide Herceptin to women in the early stages of breast cancer because it is not licensed.

They claim they are concerned about safety and cost effectiveness.

But other LHBs are allowing it to be prescribed.

The Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, has told NHS bosses in England that cost alone should not be a barrier to women receiving Herceptin.

The Health Minister, Dr. Brian Gibbons, has said it is a matter for Local Health Boards.

Jayne Sullivan says she will press Dr Gibbons to follow the lead of his English counterpart.

"At least that would be a directive. One of the LHBs says it does take guidance from the National Assembly.

"Well where is the guidance from the Health Minister."

Jayne Sullivan says if she does not get satisfaction from Brian Gibbons, she will take the battle to Downing Street by pushing the Westminster Government to make extra money available to pay for Herceptin across the whole of the UK.

"My calculations indicate that the 2000 women at risk prior to the license being granted could be treated and it would probably cost around 50m pounds.

"That is not a great deal of money when we look at the waste in government funding."

An Assembly Spokesperson said: "Funding Herceptin is not the issue in Wales.

"The drug is not licensed for use in early breast cancer treatment. The manufacturer has only just applied for a licence so in these circumstances we cannot issue a blanket approval for its use.

"To do so would be irresponsible. However, individual clinicians, working closely with their Local Health Boards may decide in individual cases that the drug is likely to be beneficial to the patient involved.

"That is a matter for their clinical judgement."

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Tune in to BBC One on Sunday 26 February 2006 at 11.55am.


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SEE ALSO:
Vigil-line for cancer protester
13 Feb 06 |  South East Wales
Cancer woman's Herceptin protest
24 Feb 06 |  South East Wales
Wales
11 Sep 05 |  Politics Show


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