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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Cancer sufferer wins drugs ruling
Victoria Otley
After being treated with Avastin Mrs Otley's condition improved
A bowel cancer sufferer has won a High Court ruling forcing a health authority to pay for her drug treatment.

Mr Justice Mitting said the decision by Barking and Dagenham Primary Care Trust not to pay for Avastin for Victoria Otley was "flawed and irrational".

Lawyers for Miss Otley, 57, argued the drug had been partially effective when she spent 15,000 on private treatment.

The trust, which said the drug was not cost-effective and efficacy was poor, must now pay for five treatments.

Important chances

The judge said the NHS panel considering the case had only concentrated on Miss Otley's short-term prospects.

He said the panel had failed adequately to take into account her "slim but important" chances of surviving more than a few months if she received the drug.

Ian Beaumont, of Bowel Cancer UK, said he was "delighted" with the judgement.

He said: "This is the first bowel cancer case to come for judicial review.

"We await with interest what this judgment means and hope common sense will prevail from the trust."

Miss Otley, a mother of two and grandmother of three, from Dagenham, east London, had been told that without treatment her life expectancy was three to six months.

Money ran out

She was diagnosed with cancer in November 2005 - two and a half years after she first consulted doctors about her symptoms.

Her father had died from the same disease.

Miss Otley raised 15,000 to fund supplies of Avastin and other drugs and her condition improved.

But when her money ran out the trust refused to fund her treatment, which costs about 1,200 per cycle.

The trust had argued that the allocation of resources was an important factor because although only 5,000 may be required in Miss Otley's case, many other patients might claim the right to the same treatment.

After Wednesday's ruling it was decided that the trust will pay for five cycles of the drug and then review her condition.


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