Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 20:36 UK

Cancer patient refused drug again


Jean Murphy has already taken her case to the High Court

A terminally ill woman who has been fighting to get a kidney cancer drug has been told her local health trust has refused to pay for it once again.

Jean Murphy, 63, from Salford, went to court after Salford Primary Care Trust refused to pay for the drug Sutent.

The High Court told the trust to reconsider its decision, but it has now refused for a third time.

Chief executive of Salford PCT, Dr Mike Burrows, said the decision had been made after "significant consideration".

He said in a statement: "A process review panel took place at the request of Mrs Murphy and her legal advisers.

"After significant consideration the review panel upheld the decision of the commissioning panel not to fund the drug Sutent for Mrs Murphy."

Jean Murphy
Jean Murphy has already taken her case to the High Court

He added: "We realise this has been a very difficult time for Mrs Murphy. However the PCT now believes it has examined in depth all aspects of this case and the conclusion of all steps of this process support the original decision."

Mrs Murphy's husband Michael, who has Crohn's disease, a heart condition and diabetes, has now said he will stop taking his own life-saving medication.

His wife is his sole carer, and they believe the drug Sutent could prolong her life.

The drug is available on the NHS to patients in Cheshire and Merseyside, but not Greater Manchester as it has not been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).

People in Greater Manchester can only receive it through clinical trials - and Mrs Murphy does not fit the criteria.

When she was first told the trust would not pay for the drug, Mrs Murphy said: "There's no other thing for me to have and I'm frightened of dying - really frightened of dying."

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

Mr Murphy said he now has "no option" but to refuse his own treatment.

"I love and care for my wife, and I'll do anything for her," he said.

"I've helped her through the years, and we've been married 25 years, and for them not to help, well I don't want any help from them."

The couple's daughter, Cathy Ostasz, said the PCT were sending her mother to an early grave.

"This family will fall apart without my mum," she said.

"This is all because of Salford PCT and I think they're disgraceful. They are sending my mother to a premature death."

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