Page last updated at 19:33 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 20:33 UK

Man in legal bid for cancer drug

Royal Marsden
Specialists at the Royal Marsden have asked for funding for Revlimid

A man with cancer who has been told he has two months to live has mounted a legal challenge after being denied a drug that could extend his life.

Colin Ross, 55, of Horsham, West Sussex has blood cancer multiple myeloma, but West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) has refused to fund the drug Revlimid.

Doctors at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London said it was his only option.

The PCT said it had to make difficult decisions given that resources within the NHS were limited.

Mr Ross, a father-of-two and grandfather to four children, responded well to two other drugs prescribed on the NHS for myeloma patients - Thalidomide and Velcade.

But he has had to stop taking them because of painful side effects.

Exceptional circumstances

His doctors applied to the PCT for Revlimid for an initial three to four-month period.

But, although the drug is available to patients across Europe and in the US, it has not yet been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice) for the NHS.

It is available only from some PCTs in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Ross, who has a partner who is undergoing intensive radiotherapy for breast cancer, has now instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to help him mount a legal challenge to the PCT's decision.

"Revlimid presents Mr Ross with his only chance of living beyond the next two months but the West Sussex PCT managers are denying the funds to pay for this drug treatment because they do not consider it cost effective," said Yogi Amin, a partner in Irwin Mitchell.

"Mr Ross is devastated that the NHS will not fund the only treatment that is available to him.

"He is prepared to take the case to the High Court to fight for his right to live."

A spokeswoman for the trust said it had the greatest sympathy with any patient suffering from a terminal condition.

"The PCT must be satisfied that a drug is both clinically effective and cost effective before it can agree to expend taxpayers' money on that drug," she said.

"The position has not yet been reached with regard to the particular drug combination for which Mr Ross seeks funding."


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