Daughter’s blast at watchdog’s drug ruling

Elizabeth Chick and her dad Thomas at their home on Coronation Walk, Billinge, taking on the NHS over cancer treatment
Elizabeth Chick and her dad Thomas at their home on Coronation Walk, Billinge, taking on the NHS over cancer treatment
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THE daughter of a man who suffers from a rare cancer is battling to save access to the life-saving drugs he needs.

Elizabeth Chick, 23, is urging people to help her father, Thomas, by signing an online petition, as she fears he may not get access to vital drugs in the future if plans put forward by health chiefs are approved.

Thomas, 50, who works as an engineer, has Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), which affects around 700 people a year in the UK.

He was diagnosed in September 2007 and currently he is on a high dose (800g) of a drug called imatinib.

However, under draft guidelines, this could be cut on the NHS to a standard dose (400g). The National Institute for Health and Clincial Excellence (NICE) has released draft plans to bring in the new regulations, as it claims the results of imanitib do not provide value for money.

Elizabeth, who lives at the family home in Coronation Walk, Billinge, with Thomas, mum Elizabeth, 52, and brother Michael, 26, said: “Under the terms of the appraisal it states he will still be able to continue with his medication if his doctor recommends it.

“However, if it stops working or he becomes resistant to it, which many people seem to show, the two other second line drugs - dasatanib and nilotinib - will be denied to him and the only other option would be a risky bone marrow transplant.

“Effectively taking away these drugs gives him a fearful future and reduces his chances of survival or carrying on leading a normal happy life with his family. How many wonderful productive people will not be given the chance to see their families, children and grandchildren grow.

“It is inhumane and takes away the human rights for leukaemia patients to live.”

In response, Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive at NICE, said: “The evidence for the effectiveness of high-dose imatinib is very weak. When we recommend the use of very expensive treatments, we need to be confident that they bring sufficient additional benefit to justify their cost.”

Imatinib, which is made by Novartis, has also recently increased in price according to NICE. They also say that until final guidance is issued, NHS bodies should make decisions locally on the funding of specific treatments. This draft guidance does not mean that people currently taking dasatinib, high-dose imatinib or nilotinib will stop receiving them. They have the option to continue treatment until they and their clinicians consider it appropriate to stop.

NICE are currently in consultation until May 27 and are seeking comments on the guidelines which can be see at http://guidance.nice.org.uk/TA/WaveR/99.

To sign the petition to stop the decision visit www.gopetition.com/petitions/be-nice-to-cancer-patients/sign.html.