New row over cancer drug denial

The Oxford Times: Appalled: Cancer patient Martyn Sumner and his wife Janet Appalled: Cancer patient Martyn Sumner and his wife Janet

A SECOND kidney cancer patient has been denied a life-prolonging 'wonder drug' by Oxfordshire NHS officials because he is not considered an "exceptional case".

Martyn Sumner, 52, has been given ten months to live without being given the drug Sunitinib, after doctors discovered a cricket ball-sized tumour on one of his kidneys last October.

His case follows that of 33-year-old Stephen Dallison, who fought a three-month battle before Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust finally agreed to prescribe the £2,500-a-month therapy.

Mr Sumner said: "It's just appalling and I find the whole thing completely outrageous.

"In this modern, affluent country we live in, how NHS managers can justify this is beyond belief. The fact people in other areas of the UK can have it is just immoral.

"The NHS was set up to offer everyone medical care.

"If it was a drug that didn't seem to work, then I would understand, but this is the main treatment for kidney cancer sufferers in the US and mainland Europe."

Doctors' attempts to cure Mr Sumner's cancer by surgically removing the diseased kidney failed, because the disease had already spread to his liver and spine.

Unlike Mr Dallison, Mr Sumner's condition is not suitable for the only alternative therapy, a strong and hazardous chemotherapy called Interleukin-2.

His doctor asked the PCT to allow the use of Sunitinib last month and was initially told members of the treatment review panel needed more information to make a decision.

The medication is available to patients in other PCT areas, including Gloucestershire, Birmingham and Greater Manchester.

But the county PCT decided earlier this month that GP practice manager Mr Sumner, who lives with his wife Janet, 49, in Bertie Road, Oxford, was not an exceptional case, who should be given the drug.

The couple, who have one daughter, Laura, 25, have lodged an appeal, but are angry they are being forced to fight.

Diabetes nurse Mrs Sumner said: "I'm really distressed, because there's no other treatment.

"Other than removing the kidney, they haven't spent any money on his treatment.

"Martyn doesn't drink or smoke. He keeps fit and has never had anything else wrong with him.

"He should have the right to treatment. Sunitinib is a licensed drug and research shows it extends your life.

"If it didn't work for Martyn, then common sense would tell us to stop using it - but we should have the right to try it.

"The trauma of having to fight for this drug is taking its toll. The PCT is making us feel worthless - it leaves me speechless."

An Oxfordshire PCT spokesman said: "On the basis of the available clinical information provided, the PCT has been unable to agree funding at this stage.

"The patient has asked that the PCT review its decision and it will consider such requests in line with its normal processes."

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