Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 19:18 UK

Woman in fight for cancer drugs

Jean Murphy
Jean Murphy says she is frightened of dying without the drug

A kidney cancer patient is vowing to fight NHS bosses who have refused to fund a potentially life-enhancing drug.

Jean Murphy, of Salford, believes that Sutent, which costs 3,500 per month, could prolong her life.

But the drug has not been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Salford Primary Care Trust will not fund it.

In a statment, Salford Primary Care Trust said patients refused a drug could appeal against the decision.

Her case has highlighted the postcode lottery surrounding the drug, which is available in Cheshire and Merseyside.

The drug does not cure kidney cancer, but trials have shown it can extend a patient's life.

I can't believe they have refused to fund this treatment she desperately needs
Cathy Ostasz, daughter

Mrs Murphy says her health is deteriorating rapidly and in the last few weeks she has been forced to start using a stairlift.

"There's no other thing for me to have and I'm frightened of dying - really frightened of dying.

"And I'm also frightened, if I'll deteriorate even more so, about what pain I might be in."

Mrs Murphy has undergone several unsuccessful treatments to slow the cancer's progress and in a letter her consultant said she would be an ideal candidate for Sutent.

But the drug is only available to people in Greater Manchester through clinical trials - and she does not fit the criteria.

He daughter, Cathy Ostasz, said: "I am astounded by it. I can't believe they have refused to fund this treatment she desperately needs.

"It is a last hope. There's nowhere else she can go - this is it."

Sutent has been licensed in Europe since 2006. But NICE is not due to issue guidelines on whether it is effective enough to warrant the cost to the NHS until next year.

In a statement, Salford PCT said: "If patients wish to challenge a decision... they have a right to an appeal."

Mrs Murhpy's family confirmed they would be appealing against the decision.

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