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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Court orders cancer drug rethink
Lung X-ray
Ms Gordon is a life-long non-smoker
A health trust has been ordered to look again at its decision to deny a patient a potentially life-prolonging drug.

Linda Gordon, 47, took legal action against Bromley NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) over its decision not to give her the cancer treatment drug Tarceva.

Mr Justice Ousele, sitting at the High Court, ruled the PCT should "consider afresh" its actions.

An interim order has already been passed ordering the PCT to fund the drug from 25 August.

'Ideal patient'

The High Court heard on Thursday the drug had not been approved for NHS use in England and Wales.

Mr Justice Ousele said the real issue was whether the trust would still refuse to fund the treatment even if a trial was deemed successful.

"It would be to raise false hopes to have a trial and then say 'well the results really don't affect our decision'.

"I emphasise that the claimant may well find it impossible to challenge a refusal of further funding, even on a trial basis, if the decision is explained and grapples with the relevant issues," he added.

On Friday, the judge ruled the trust should fund the treatment for another eight weeks.

Ms Gordon, who has two daughters, Charlie, 28, and Jody 20, has funded an initial course of the drug herself.

Reduces pain

A life-long non-smoker, she has been described in an independent report by consultant thoracic oncologist Dr Jeremy Steele as an ideal patient for the drug, which could extend her life for up to 18 months.

Dr Steele stated a number of factors, including being female, young, fit and a non-smoker, placed Ms Gordon in a small minority of lung cancer patients who were likely to benefit most from the treatment.

Ms Gordon's solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, said large-scale clinical trials and case studies had shown that, for those who respond well to the treatment, it could have outstanding results.

They said it can fight the progression of the disease and significantly reduce the pain and other symptoms suffered by patients in the advanced stages of lung cancer.

Ms Gordon said the few weeks she had been able to afford the tablets, had made "an incredible difference" to her symptoms and given her a new lease of life.

The result of the NHS's assessment of Tarceva is not due to be completed until September 2007.

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