100000 Sign Welsh Cancer Drugs Petition

A 100,000-signature petition is being handed in to the Welsh Assembly calling for cancer patients in Wales to get the same treatment as those in England.

Protesters will demand that a Cancer Drugs Fund be set up, similar to the one available for English NHS patients.

Sky News has learned of research suggesting some specialist drugs available on the English NHS, but more difficult to get in Wales, can extend life by an average of 11 months.

The issue of Welsh healthcare has become a political football in recent months.

The Conservatives claim the Labour-run service is failing patients, something strongly denied by the Welsh Government.


Video:
Why Was I rejected For Cancer Drug?

The English Cancer Drugs Fund, worth £200m, was set up by the coalition Government in 2010 giving patients access to new drugs.

These drugs are licensed but not recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The Welsh Labour Government has resisted the idea.

The Health Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, told Sky News it was an ethical decision not to have a fund.

Mr Drakeford said the fund would favour cancer patients over people with other types of illness and would undermine the purpose of NICE.

He said: “We don’t have a cancer drugs fund because, as the best research says, it is ethically dubious, clinically contentious and unpopular with patients.”

But many cancer patients disagree.

Beth Margetson, 50, from Porthcawl had to apply to a health panel for the potentially life-prolonging drug Afinitor, but she was rejected.

The Individual Patient Funding Request (IPFR) panels only approve patients who can prove “clinical exceptionality”.

Mrs Margetson said: “I’m a 50 year-old woman with a 16-year-old daughter who wants to stay alive.

“I have an 87-year-old father who I have to look after. I want to stay alive.


Video:
Oncologist Says Drugs Prolong Life

“I am exceptional because I should be dead by now but I’m fighting for my life so I have a right to have that drug.

“If I’d lived in Bristol I would have had it on the NHS.”

John Wagstaff, a Professor of Oncology from the Cancer Institute based at Singleton Hospital in Swansea, said only 15% of his patients are considered exceptional by IPFR panels.

He has recently submitted research for publication by six oncologists which audited 600 kidney cancer patients in Wales, Scotland and England.

He says it shows average survival rates rise from 22 months to 33 months if two drugs, Axitinib and Everolimus, not approved by NICE, are used as treatment.

These drugs are available through the English Cancer Drugs Fund.

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew R T Davies said: “The reason why Mark Drakeford (Welsh Minister for Health) and Carwyn Jones (Welsh First Minister) will not bring forward a cancer drugs fund in Wales is solely political.”

Some Welsh cancer patients have even moved to England.

Annie Mulholland has moved part-time to her daughter’s house in London so she can access the drug Avastin on the English NHS to treat her ovarian cancer. 

The petition will be delivered to the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff at 1pm on Wednesday, ahead of a debate on the issue.

Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1366862/100000-sign-welsh-cancer-drugs-petition