Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 16:40 UK

Cancer patients in drug protest

Kidney cancer drugs protest in Holborn (pic: PA)
Protesters gathered outside the headquarters of NICE in London

Kidney cancer patients have protested in London to demand free access to drugs that could prolong their lives.

Campaigners from across the UK want the government to make Bevacizumab, Sorafenib, Sunitinib and Temsirolimus widely available on the NHS.

Draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said the drugs did not offer value for money.

NICE says the drugs are being appraised and could still be prescribed locally.

Clive Stone, 60, from Freeland near Witney in Oxfordshire, joined other demonstrators to hand over a petition in support of the drugs at the Holborn offices of NICE, the body responsible for providing national guidance on medication.

We feel we've been left to go away and die quietly and we are not going to do that
Clive Stone

He said: "Can you imagine what they [senior oncologists] must feel like going to work every day and seeing people like us and knowing there is a drug there that they can give but they can't do it?

"Their hands are tied."

Earlier this month, NICE published its draft guidelines on treatments for patients with advanced kidney cancer.

It concluded that the drugs - Bevacizumab, Sorafenib, Sunitinib and Temsirolimus - did not offer value for money.

In a letter to a national newspaper on Sunday, some of the UK's top cancer consultants warned that NHS drug "rationing" was forcing some patients to remortgage their homes to pay for treatment.

Clive Stone
Clive Stone wants his local primary care trust to pay for the drugs

Mr Stone added: "We feel we've been left to go away and die quietly and we are not going to do that."

In a statement, NICE insisted that it had not yet issued final guidance on the use of the drugs.

"All comments received during the consultation will be reviewed by the independent appraisal committee at their meeting in September 2008," said a spokesman.

"Following this meeting, the appraisal committee will issue the next draft guidance.

"Until NICE issues final guidance on the use of Bevacizumab, Sorafenib, Sunitinib or Temsirolimus as treatment options for advanced and/or metastatic renal cell carcinoma, individual cases should be assessed at a local level within the NHS.

"Once NICE issues its guidance on a technology it replaces local recommendations."

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