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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 20:05 GMT
Trust spent 300k in legal fees
Ann Marie Rogers
Herceptin costs 20,000 per patient, per year

A Wiltshire health trust spent more than 300,000 in legal fees fighting to prevent a woman diagnosed with breast cancer from receiving Herceptin.

Swindon Primary Care Trust (PCT) lost a Court of Appeal case brought by Anne Marie Rogers, from Swindon, in 2006.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Sam Wright, from Lynham, discovered exactly how much the PCT spent.

The PCT said it was unethical to decide a course of treatment based on what legal action a patient might take.

Mrs Rogers was in the early stages of breast cancer when her legal battle started.

At the time, the anti-cancer drug, which costs 20,000 per patient per year, was only available for women in the advanced stages however other health trusts were offering Herceptin to patients.

Mr Wright decided to find out how much the PCT was spending on fighting Mrs Rogers after he saw her on the evening news.

Freedom of Information Act letter
Mr Wright applied for the information in December 2005

He applied in December 2005, and this week he was sent a reply stating it had cost the PCT 311,935.22.

"It was a postcode lottery and as a layman I thought 'she can't lose, she just cannot lose' and I thought 'this is ridiculous'," said Mr Wright.

"We the tax payer, who fund these things, will be picking up the tab."

In a statement, the PCT said: "We decided the fairest thing was to stick with national and local policies on prescribing Herceptin.

"At the time, the safety and efficacy of the drug had not been approved by NICE."

Since Mrs Rogers' case, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) ruled the breast cancer drug must be funded by the NHS.

Breast cancer: battle for treatment
06 Feb 06 |  Breakfast
Ann Marie 'faces death sentence'
26 Mar 06 |  Wiltshire

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