Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 18:00 UK

Man 'disgusted' by drug decision

Cancer drug 'too costly'

A cancer patient from West Yorkshire has criticised a recommendation that four drug treatments for kidney cancer should remain unavailable on the NHS.

The drugs - bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib and temsirolimus - do not offer value for money, according to draft guidelines for England and Wales.

Fred Walker, from Knottingley, was diagnosed with kidney cancer for the second time in 2004.

The 70-year-old said he was "absolutely disgusted" by the recommendation.

Mr Walker, a former miner, was first diagnosed with cancer in 1983 and had to have his bladder and left kidney removed.

'Significant gains'

Then in 2004 he was diagnosed with kidney cancer again and has to take about 20 different drugs every day to suppress the disease.

The father of six told BBC Look North: "I am absolutely disgusted that people have put themselves in a position where they are starting to play god.

"They are saying to me, as a cancer patient, that I don't deserve the right to live, whether it's for one month, two months, six months or even years."

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The drugs, which also go by the names Avastin (bevacizumab), Nexavar (sorafenib), Sutent (sunitinib) and Torisel (temsirolimus), were found by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to provide "significant gains" in survival.

However, further analysis showed they did not meet NICE criteria for "cost-effectiveness".

The drugs cost between 20,000 to 35,000 a year per patient.

Mr Walker said: "[If] we can find billions of pounds or millions of pounds to help out people like Northern Rock and find millions and millions of pounds to go and fight in wars then surely to god we should be able to find some money to keep the people in our country alive or to prolong their life."

Charities and some experts have expressed outrage at the decision, saying it left patients only one treatment option - interferon - to which many do not respond.

But Professor Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director at NICE, said NHS resources were "not limitless" and hard choices had to be made.

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