Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 18:24 UK

Cancer patient wins drug battle

Colin Ross
Colin Ross said he would have died before Christmas without the drug

A cancer patient has won a battle in the High Court to be given a drug which doctors say could prolong his life by up to three years.

Colin Ross, 55, from Horsham, West Sussex, who has the bone marrow cancer multiple myeloma, launched his legal battle to obtain the drug Revlimid.

The High Court was told he would have two months to live without the drug.

Mr Ross was challenging a decision by West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) last March to refuse funding.

Judge Simon Grenfell overturned the PCT's decision that the new drug would not be cost-effective, and said Mr Ross's case should be treated as "exceptional".

The judge ruled that the trust's decision was "one which no reasonable authority could have made on the application before it".

The case has again raised the issue of a so-called "postcode lottery" for NHS treatments.

Mr Ross said last week he would already have been receiving Revlimid if he had been living in neighbouring East Sussex.

Mr Ross's case demonstrates the devastating effect that the postcode lottery can have on people's lives
Yogi Amin, solicitor

He found out about the discrepancy by talking to a fellow patient at the Royal Marsden Hospital who lives 12 miles away from him and was receiving the drug.

Mr Ross was too ill to attend court for the ruling.

But his partner and carer Wendy Forbes-Newbegin, 52, who has breast cancer, said the wait for Revlimid had been "shameful".

"The mental anguish that we have been through has at times been unbearable, and wholly unacceptable in this day and age," she said.

The judge issued an emergency injunction to enable Mr Ross to begin treatment on Thursday.

The order was made on an interim basis pending any further appeal and not as the start of permanent treatment.

'Only viable option'

Following the ruling, his solicitor Yogi Amin, from Irwin Mitchell, said: "Mr Ross is understandably delighted by the High Court's judgment to overturn the decision made by the West Sussex Primary Care Trust.

"His NHS doctor and team of expert clinicians at the Royal Marsden Hospital prescribed Revlimid to Mr Ross as an exceptional case.

"Doctors advised that the drug is the only viable option available to extend his life.

"Despite this it has taken months, and a High Court legal battle, for him to gain access.

"Mr Ross's case demonstrates the devastating effect that the postcode lottery can have on people's lives."

West Sussex PCT said it had the greatest sympathy with any patient suffering from a terminal condition.

"The PCT has difficult commissioning decisions to make and accepts that the judge has made an interim order providing that we should commission funding for a course of treatment for Mr Ross which will include the drug Lenalidomide (Revlimid).

"There are some difficult and complex issues which the judge has asked us to review and we will now consider the full impact of his judgment."



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