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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 20:33 GMT
Woman fights for eye drug funding
Mary Bristow-Jones
Mary Bristow-Jones is blind in one eye and has poor sight in the other
An 88-year-old former artist is planning to appeal against a health trust's decision not to fund a drug which could help save her sight.

Mary Bristow-Jones, from Crawley, West Sussex, stands to lose the sight in her one good eye because of wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD).

But West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) has turned down her consultant's request to pay for the drug Lucentis.

A trust spokesperson said Mrs Bristow-Jones was not eligible.

Mrs Bristow-Jones is one of between 100 and 200 patients in the UK being supported in similar cases against PCTs by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

Cheaper drug

Wet AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the UK, with thousands of new cases every year.

The RNIB supports the use of Lucentis or a cheaper drug, Avastin, which have been shown to have the potential to restore sight.

"If the appeal doesn't work, I am powerless," said Mrs Bristow-Jones.

"I shall just have to be go blind."

In the meantime, her daughter Suzanne Perkins is paying for Avastin at a cost of 550 per injection, of which several are needed.

But she said she feared her savings would run out.

Understood distress

RNIB spokeswoman Barbara McLaughlin said: "We do recognise that it is a difficult situation - that PCTs are pulled in all kinds of directions to fund new treatments - but we believe that saving sight is something that should be given priority."

West Sussex PCT said it understood the distress caused to Mrs Bristow-Jones.

"Avastin is licensed for bowel cancer but not for age-related macular degeneration," it said.

"The PCT funds treatments recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice)."

It said it was funding treatment for some patients with Lucentis, but Mrs Bristow-Jones was not eligible.

SEE ALSO
Age-related macular degeneration
13 Jun 02 |  Medical notes

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