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'You don't want to go through money worries like this when you're in my state'.

Byline: Greg Tindle

A RETIRED couple have taken out a pounds 40,000 loan for bowel cancer treatment that the NHS won't pay for.

Brian and Dorothy Isgrove have re-mortgaged their house to pay for the drugs that are a last chance treatment for the 64-year-old grandmother.

It follows a decision by health officials to reject their application for the NHS to pay the new bowel cancer drug Sutent which costs pounds 4,000 for just one month's treatment.

Mrs Isgrove's family say they had no alternative but to pay privately and have raised the money on their house with the loan paying for one year's treatment.

Mrs Isgrove, of Arabella Street, Roath, Cardiff, was diagnosed with bowel cancer six years ago and the drug has been recommended by her doctor as the only form of treatment left for her inoperable tumour after surgery and other drug therapies have failed.

She said: "It just doesn't seem fair as we've both worked all our lives and then have to payfor help.

I know I'm ill because I carry this tumour around with me every day - and know it's growing-the only treatment is this drug.

"Re-mortgaging the house is something my husband and family wanted to dobut I'm very worried.

You don't want to go through money worries like this when you're in my state."

Mrs Isgrove's plight follows that of 51-year-old Karen Jenkins, of Pontypridd. Mrs Jenkins was also turned down for the use of Sutent for her bowel cancer by Rhondda Cynon Taf Health Board, despite it being recommended by her oncologist at Velindre Hospital, Cardiff. After an appeal to the LHB, and a further plea by her doctor, the board changed their mind and agreed to a three-month prescription of the drug for the mother of two.

Mrs Isgrove, a council care worker for 22 years with two sons and five grandchildren, now plans to appeal against the drug refusal by Cardiff Local Health Board.

"My doctor told me I was a good candidate for the drug but I was reluctant to start the treatment because of the cost as it was not available on the NHS. My family then took it upon themselves to raise the money by re-mortgaging the house."

Husband Brian, 66, a retired chauffeur, said: "We are ordinary working-class people and do not have any spare money to pay for this so the only thing we could do was re-mortgage the house. I didn't want to do it but my wife's health is far more important. I don't want to see her suffer."

Mike Walsh, of Cardiff Local Health Board, said: "We sympathise with patients suffering from life-threatening diseases who wish to receive treatment which may offer a chance of extended life expectancy over treatments available on the NHS. We receive a number of requests to fund treatments not normally available on the NHS, and which have not been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence or NHS Wales's All Wales Medicines Strategy Group.

"These requests are considered by a clinically-led panel, which examines the request in the light of the information provided by the patient's clinician, and any other evidence available to the panel, about the effectiveness of the treatment.

"In this instance the panel was unable to agree to the funding of this drug for the treatment. The panel decided there was insufficient evidence to exempt the patient from the LHB's policy on funding of new drug treatments."

A WAG spokesman said: "Sutent has not been recommended by Nice the National Instutute fior Clinical Excellence - it is still being appraised, a new guidance isn't expected until January 2009 at the earliest."


FIGHTING ILLNESS: Dorothy and Brian Isgrove of Arabella Street, Roath, Cardiff, used their own money for treatment Picture: Peter BolterY
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 5, 2008
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