Cancer drugs campaigners urge PM to keep his promise

Prime Minister David Cameron meeting cancer campaigner Clive Stone in 2010. Picture: Andrew Parsons

Prime Minister David Cameron meeting cancer campaigner Clive Stone in 2010. Picture: Andrew Parsons Buy this photo

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

CANCER campaigner Clive Stone last night demanded that Prime Minister David Cameron kept a vow that patients would get drugs they need after proposed health changes were branded as a “stealth cut”.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is proposing changing how funding should be allocated, including abolishing the criteria covering end-of-life drugs.

The Department of Health asked Nice to look at the issue to ensure the price the NHS pays for new medicines is more closely linked to their value to patients and the public as a whole.

The Rarer Cancers Foundation warned there was no guarantee key treatments would be approved in the future and it says the criteria is the reason why 12 life-extending cancer drugs have been approved.

Eynsham grandfather-of-one Mr Stone was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2007 and was only able to get the drug Sunitinib, also known as Sutent, after fighting Nice for the drug.

The 66-year-old father-of-two, whose wife Jan died of breast cancer aged 61 in 2011, said: “I want to see fair access to the drugs that you need.

“We were promised by the Prime Minister that whatever drugs doctors recommended patients would get.

“We would like that pledge to be kept.”

In April 2010, Oxford Mail columnist Mr Stone met the then leader of the opposition Mr Cameron, who said: “We want to get more drugs to people more quickly. In the UK today, there are some people, thousands of people, who want a certain cancer drug, whose doctors tell them they should have certain cancer drug, who don’t get it.”

Following Mr Stone’s campaign Mr Cameron introduced the Cancer Drugs Fund, which has given 35,000 patients free access to life extending drugs that are not available on the NHS.

Mr Stone said: “I think he probably feels he is keeping his promises but I don’t think he is fully in the picture about what is going on.

“The Department of Health tends to run rings around Number 10.

“There is an election coming up and I have always been loyal to David Cameron because of what he did with the Cancer Drugs Fund.

“I would be very disappointed to see that he has changed his stance for cancer patients.”

The new approach would see factors such as burden of illness, wider societal impact, non-health objectives of the NHS such as reducing the impact on carers and whether a new technology or drug is innovative, taken into account.

Of the Nice proposals Mr Stone said: “Everyone is important and why should Nice be playing God?”

Mr Cameron did not provide a comment about the promise, but said in a statement: “Nice is currently consulting on how we value the drugs the NHS buys to ensure even better access for patients at the best value for the NHS, and the price the NHS pays is more closely linked to the value a medicine brings.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Better access to effective medicine is a priority for the Government, and it is absolutely not true to say that these proposals would reduce patients’ access to life extending treatments.

“No decisions have been made.”

Headington father-of-three Paul Coleman wants to raise £60,000 to have experimental treatment in America with radium 223 that could prolong his life, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.

The 58-year-old said: “[Nice] should respect the fact that people have one life, and family around them and their life should not be given a price label.”

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