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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Drummer's fight to prolong life
by Sarah Portlock
BBC News

Kex Gorin and Sally Clark
Kex Gorin and Sally Clark: Sunitinib is their best option
Two years ago, while on holiday in Devon, rock drummer Kex Gorin fell ill.

Without any warning signs, he started to cough up blood and was taken to hospital for x-rays.

That was the start of a living nightmare for him and partner Sally Clark, which eventually led to the former member of rock group Magnum being diagnosed with kidney cancer.

"Eventually they found a tumour on his right kidney and secondary tumours on his lungs. It came as a real shock," Miss Clark said.

Since then Mr Gorin, 58, of Great Alne, Warwickshire, has had a kidney removed, is undergoing radiotherapy and steroid treatment and has suffered a slight stroke.

Kex is just one of a number of people in this situation
Professor Nicholas James
He has been told he has advanced cancer and has been prescribed Sutent or Sunitinib, which can prolong his life.

But the county's Primary Care Trust has said it will not pay for the treatment - although some health trusts, including Birmingham, just 30 miles up the road, do offer it.

He and Miss Clark, 29, think it is appalling.

"Our specialist told us that if we lived in Birmingham there was a one in three chance it would be funded. It is tempting to move there.

"But it is disgusting that we should have to do that.

"It should be available to everybody or to nobody," he said.

Sunitinib, which costs roughly 3,300 for four weeks treatment, cannot cure the cancer but it can prolong life expectancy and ease the cancer's symptoms.

Kex Gorin and Sally Clark
Kex Gorin and Sally Clark before the cancer took hold

"His specialist was happy to prescribe it and said it was our best option at the moment.

"But Warwickshire PCT turned it down," Miss Clark said.

The case is going to go before a review panel. But at the moment, the couple are left in left in limbo.

"This is an horrendous situation, it is difficult to put into words.

"We cannot move forwards until we know what is going to happen."

The drug was recommended to Mr Gorin by Professor Nicholas James at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

He said: "This is classic postcode lottery.

"The drug is licenced on the basis of preset criteria.

"It has been through testing and met the criteria of the regulatory agencies."

Kex Gorin (second from left) in his Magnum days
Kex Gorin (second from left) in his Magnum days
It was licensed in the US in January 2006 and the rest of Europe in August 2006.

In the UK, it faces the additional hurdle of meeting the requirements of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Prof James said: "This body looks to see if the drug is cost effective. How much do we have to spend in order to extend someone's life by a certain amount?"

NICE is not looking at the treatment until the end of next year.

"So some PCT's are saying they are not providing the funding until NICE has looked at the issue, Warwickshire for example.

"It is a bizarre stance. The drugs are licenced for the purpose for which I want to prescribe them.

"Kex is just one of a number of people in this situation."

Several PCT's around the country do fund the drug. Newcastle approved funding for it just a few days ago.

Warwickshire PCT said it could not comment on individual patient's cases.

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