Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 19:51 UK

NHS adding charge for cancer drug

Diane Winston
Mrs Winston says the results from using Nexavar have been phenomenal

A woman who is buying a cancer drug the NHS refuses to provide has found she is being charged more for purchasing it through the health service.

Diane Winston, 52, from Gosport, Hampshire, says she has been charged 1,600 extra in the last five months for a drug to fight kidney cancer.

She pays the NHS 24.59 per Nexavar tablet but the manufacturer sells each tablet at 22.36 to the health service.

Portsmouth Hospitals Trust says it is allowed to charge extra to cover costs.

Mr Winston, who was diagnosed last year and has decided to pay for all her care, said: "Essentially if I didn't take the drug I would just die because the tumours are in my body.

"Having taken the drug and had scans, all my tumours have drastically reduced.

The money is received by the trust to pay for services provided, which otherwise would be paid for by patients' Primary Care Trust
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

"The results are phenomenal, the drug is keeping me alive.

"But we were under the impression the hospital was not allowed to make money by supplying us with medication.

"Now we find out they are charging extra, I can't understand it."

Nexavar's manufacturer, Bayer Healthcare, believes there should be more transparency over costs.

Dr Philip Ashman, of Bayer Healthcare, said: "The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the government has set themselves on a path where they will reject, knowingly, clinically effective medicines.

"So one way to alleviate some of the frustrations is to develop a transparent and structured payment system for patients like Diane Winston where they are no hidden costs or nasty surprises."

But Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust defended its policy and said it was awaiting a review on the issue.

In a statement it said: "There is a local discretion about the additional charge to privately finance drugs.

"The complexity of the treatment would determine the overall additional cost.

"The money is received by the trust to pay for services provided, which otherwise would be paid for by patients' Primary Care Trust.

"The Department of Health is currently carrying out a national consultation on this issue and we await with interest the outcome."


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