BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
'Why can't I have cancer drug?'
Glivec
Glivec, branded Gleevec in the US, is available in Europe
A woman suffering from cancer has written to the Prime Minister Tony Blair - her constituency MP - asking why she has been denied a drug that could save her life.

Ann Tittley, 55, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in November 2001.

The cancer can be successfully tackled with the drug Glivec which was pioneered at the hospital where she is currently being treated.

But despite leukaemia sufferers in Scotland being allowed the drug on the NHS, Mrs Tittley cannot get the drug because she lives in England.


Glivec was my lifeline, at least it would give me a chance of beating this disease

Ann Tittley

English hospitals have been left waiting in anticipation of a ruling from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice), to see if the new drug can be prescribed on the health service.

Patients who took part in initial testing have been allowed to stay on the drug.

Mrs Tittley was due to take part in the tests of Glivec - which has an 86% success rate - when she was told it was no longer possible.

In her letter to Mr Blair, she asked him if she must relocate her family to Scotland to get the much needed treatment.

She said: "I think everybody who is in my position has got to have a chance to try it [Glivec] and see if it works.

"Life is precious.

Breast cancer

"It made me so angry when I found I couldn't have it because I was due to have it. It fired me up to write the letter."

Mrs Tittley was being treated for breast cancer - which eventually led to a mastectomy - when she was diagnosed with leukaemia.

Her doctor planned to prescribe Glivec, but weeks before she was due to start taking the drug, a review was announced to see if the medication could be used across all hospitals in the country.

In her letter to Mr Blair, Mrs Tittley said: "My consultant has recommended I start Glivec treatment this month, but it seems the goalposts have moved and I was told I could not now have it.

Safety licence

"Glivec was my lifeline, at least it would give me a chance of beating this disease.

"I appreciate that the cost is important, but to deny patients this potentially life-saving treatment on this basis is totally unforgivable and criminal."

Glivec, which costs 18,000 per person a year, was licensed safe to use in the UK after thorough testing at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

It is already available across mainland Europe and in America.

Preliminary results

A Department of Health spokesman said Glivec was already licensed as a back-up drug for some patients.

The spokesman said: "Glivec is a new drug already licensed for 'second line' use, for patients who cannot tolerate the current 'gold standard' treatment of interferon alpha or whose disease has progressed despite treatment.

"Glivec is now being trailed for first line use, preliminary results are expected to be announced very shortly.

"If these are successful it is understood that there will be an application for a licence extension."


Click here to go to BBC Tees
See also:

28 May 02 | Health
27 Nov 01 | Health
01 Oct 01 | Scotland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes