Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Widower's Anger at 'Spinelessness' Cancer Drug Battle in Memory of Jane

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Widower's Anger at 'Spinelessness' Cancer Drug Battle in Memory of Jane

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alistair Keely

THE widower of inspirational fundraiser Jane Tomlinson yesterday accused the Government of being "spineless" for stonewalling his request for answers regarding his late wife's problems in accessing life-extending drugs.

Mike Tomlinson has been trying to raise the issue of "unfair" access to cancer drugs since Jane's death last September.

Mrs Tomlinson, 43, lost her seven-year battle with cancer after raising more than pounds 1.75m for charity in gruelling endurance events, including three London Marathons.

His wife had to travel from her home in Leeds to Nottingham to receive the life-extending drug Lapatinib because the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had not taken part in the study of the treatment.

Last November, Mr Tomlinson met Health Minister Ann Keen and cancer tsar Mike Richards to try to get some answers.

"They promised me they'd report back to me in three months. They didn't. Not one email, not one phone call.

"They have broken that promise," he said.

Mr Tomlinson said the Government's inaction has forced him go public and he intends to raise the issues in a BBC Radio 5 Live special report tomorrow.

The widower said he asked the Government and Health Secretary Alan Johnson for an interview for the programme but they refused.

"I thought that was a bit spineless, to be honest," he said.

"These are serious issues. We are not trying to catch anyone out."

The programme also features the problems Manchester music mogul Tony Wilson faced in his battle against cancer.

Mr Wilson's kidney cancer drug was available in this country but not nationally approved for use. "There are some high-profile cases. It was disappointing no one from the Government would come on the programme and talk to us," Mr Tomlinson said.

On the radio, he says: "I've uncovered what the problems (are) but it's extremely disappointing to think that the Government, which so highly praised Jane, are not prepared to sit down and discuss these issues face to face in a public forum. …

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