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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Cancer patient's VAT bill for drugs
Gleevec drug
The drug is branded Gleevec in the US
A leukaemia sufferer who has to pay for his own drugs to be sent over from America is facing a VAT bill of nearly 300 a month.

Because 35-year-old Paul Norris is in the early stages of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) he is not entitled to the anti-cancer drug Glivec on the NHS.

Instead Mr Norris, of Wokingham, Berkshire, paid out 1,500 for a consignment of the drug he says he needs to enjoy time with his wife and three-year-old son.

Customs officials told him he would have to pay 277 before it could be delivered.


I was appalled when customs officials demanded that I fork out another 277 for something that should be available free of charge

Paul Norris

He said: "It is bad enough that I am having to find 1,500 per month to get hold of a drug which is readily available in many other European countries.

"I was appalled when customs officials demanded that I fork out another 277 for something that should be available free of charge."

His mother Patricia said: "There should be an exemption for a life-saving drug.

"VAT is supposed to be for luxury items, not essential items.

"Well, Glivec is essential for my son."

Glivec is currently only prescribed for those in the advanced stages of CML.

Although the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended it for all CML patients, the guidelines are unlikely to be implemented before late September at the earliest.

'Absolute outrage'

The family and Labour MP Martin Salter want the government to grant tax exemptions for cancer sufferers who have to buy the drug themselves.

Mr Salter said: "It is an absolute outrage that Glivec was ever denied to leukaemia patients in the first place.

"It cannot be right that people like Paul and many others are being charged tax on a life-saving drug that should have been given to them free of charge."


Click here to go to BBC Berkshire Online
See also:

12 Aug 02 | Health
12 Jun 02 | England
28 May 02 | Health
27 Nov 01 | Health
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