Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 18:20 UK

Cancer sufferer wins drugs fight

Jocelyn Hall
Jocelyn Hall was diagnosed with kidney cancer in September 2006.

A kidney cancer patient has been told a health board will now pay for a drug treatment which could prolong his life.

Jocelyn Hall, 60, of Tonna, Neath threatened to take health officials to a judicial review after they refused to pay for him to have the Sunitinib drug.

He had claimed his case was exceptional and he should be given the new therapy which is also known as Sutent.

Neath Port Talbot LHB said the patient commissioning panel could review cases on an individual basis.

Mr Hall was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer in September 2006, a fortnight after he gave his notice so he could retire from Neath's Metal Box can factory after 44 years.

In the 18 months since then he has not received treatment.

Surgeons were unable to remove his kidney - the usual treatment for kidney cancer - in February 2007 because his tumour had spread to other organs.

We are absolutely over the moon, my feet haven't touched the ground since I found out
Rosemarie Snow, Jocelyn Hall's sister

The only other treatment suitable in Mr Hall's case was for him to have the Sunitinib drug which Professor John Wagstaff, his oncologist at Swansea's Singleton Hospital, said costs 2,300 every six weeks.

The LHB will nowl pay for the drug for six months and Mr Hall could begin the treatment before the end of the week, said his sister Rosemarie Snow.

"We are absolutely over the moon, my feet haven't touched the ground since I found out," said Mrs Snow who has been fighting for the treatment for her brother for over a year.

"Joc is speechless. He had been saying to me that he would not take the drug because the battle was causing me so much worry but he would always ask whether we had heard anything."

Kate Spall, who has become a patient advocate [to support patients] since her mother died from a rare kidney cancer, said Mr Hall was the "most exceptional" of the more than 40 cases she had advised.

She said that unlike chemotherapy, the drug's toxicity was low so the people who took it could have a good standard of life and some could even go back to work.


She added that the drug reduced the size of tumours and if successful, might enable Mr Hall to undergo the kidney removal surgery at some point in the future.

"The prognosis for this form of cancer is three to 10 months but Joc has outlived that which is amazing and now he has got a chance with this drug," said Ms Spall.

"I've got a number of patients in exactly the same situation, not just with Neath Port Talbot but with other LHBs in south west Wales."

Mrs Snow had written to numerous politicians for help and had received a reply from the Prince of Wales, who promised that if he found out anything that could help, he would respond to her.

A spokeswoman for Neath Port Talbot LHB said she could not comment on individual cases because of confidentiality.

"What we can say, however, is that in line with other LHBs, where a drug has not been granted approval through the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group, the patient commissioning panel has the option to review cases on an individual basis, where the treatment is recommended by the consultant involved in the patient's care."

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