Please give me the chance of a longer life

editorial image

A LEVENMOUTH nurse is battling to win funding for a drug which could extend her life.

Anna Flaws (49) was diagnosed last November with oeseophageal cancer, but has responded well to treatment with herceptin, a drug commonly used against breast cancer.

However, although the drug is available for Anna’s type of illness in England, it has not been approved for such treatment by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) over value-for-money issues.

NHS Fife has also so far declined to fund it.

Anna, from Methilhill, has paid around £6000 from her own pocket so far for private treatment - but with a cost equivalent to around £30,000 a year, she fears her funds will dry up by February or March.

Friends and relatives are organising fund-raising events, but Anna, a mental health nurse who has worked with the NHS for 15 years, believes her treatment should be subsidised.

Local MP Lindsay Roy is also highlighting her case.

Anna was given around nine months to live after the diagnosis, but says her quality of life is now “100 per cent better” than this time last year - and quality of life is the key factor.

“If I was bed-ridden or housebound, I could understand it,” she said.

“I don’t think anybody should have to fight for treatment. You pay your National Insurance contributions all your life, and I have worked all of my life.

“You think when you become unwell that you’ll be OK because we’re supposed to have a good National Health Service - not a health service you have to fight with.”

An SMC spokesman said: “We were disappointed not to be able to recommend herceptin to treat adenocarcinoma of the stomach or gastro-oesophageal junction, when we looked at it this year.

“Sadly, the medicine’s cost currently outweighs its health benefits.

“There were also a number of uncertainties in the manufacturer’s economic case, which meant the drug was not considered to offer value for money. We would welcome a new submission from the manufacturer at any time.”

NHS Fife said it followed the SMC’s advice, adding: “Where a drug is not approved for specific use by the SMC, there are processes within the health board for consideration on a case-by-case basis. All decisions are made on clinical grounds.”

Anna’s case, however, was turned down - despite her testing favourably for the drug and being recommended for it by her own consultant.

Mr Roy said he had written to NHS Fife, urging it to reconsider its decision.

‘’It cannot be right or fair that Anna is denied access to this medication simply because she lives in Scotland,” he said. ‘’The policy must be changed to ensure residents here are no longer disadvantaged and denied access to treatment recognised in England as being effective.’’