Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dying Man Is Told to Pay

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dying Man Is Told to Pay

Article excerpt

Byline: By Guy Basnett

A man with terminal cancer last night hit out at the drugs licensing system which means he can only get medication to prolong his life if he pays for it.

Lung cancer victim Mick Harrison, 76, was advised by his oncologist that wonder-drug Tarceva would help his condition.

The drug had previously been available in this country as part of its clinical trials ( which showed it inhibited lung tumours.

But just days after Mr Harrison was told this, the EU licensed the drug, meaning it was now off limits until experts decide whether it could be prescribed by the National Health Service.

Under the drugs system Tarceva will now be unavailable while the NHS regional cancer networks consider it through three lengthy committee stages.

Meanwhile, Mr Harrison and others in his position can only get the drug by going private. The cost of the drug treatment would be about pounds 20,000 a year.

His plight comes just a fortnight after The Journal revealed that another life-extending cancer drug, Alimta, was not available in the region, despite being developed here.

The Northern Cancer Network ruled the mesothelioma drug was not "cost effective".

Last night, Mr Harrison and his wife Sylvia, of Davison Avenue, Morpeth, Northumberland,

branded the system "a nonsense" for delaying treatment that could prolong lives. Mrs Harrison, 73, said: "We just get really angry about this.

"If this is all just about money, then why bother prolonging the life of cancer patients at all? You could just let them go off and die, and save a lot more."

She added: "I know this isn't a cure, but it will give us more time together, which is all you can hope for."

Mr Harrison, who worked as a colliery official for 40 years, was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in March. The condition is incurable. …

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