Cancer Drug Trial Follows Protest

A woman from Denbighshire who is dying from cancer will trial a drug that was previously unavailable in Wales, her daughters have said. Pamela Northcott, 58, from Dyserth in Denbighsire has terminal kidney cancer.

Her two daughters interrupted a NHS trust meeting on Tuesday to demand she was given the drug Nexavar, which can help slow the progress of the tumour. Kate Spall and Emma Northcott have now been told that their mother will be given the drug for two months.

She will then be scanned to see if the drug, which is not yet recognised by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice), is having an effect on her condition and the treatment will be reviewed.

Her daughters, who said the drug was available within 70 English trusts, said they were overjoyed. The family said they hoped the case would set a precedent and provide hope for other sufferers. The news comes as a report into the use of new cancer treatments suggests that Britain lags behind many other western countries.

Swedish researchers have said that the United States, France, Switzerland and Austria are world leaders for using new drugs, but the UK is one of the slowest countries to adopt new treatments.

On Tuesday, Pamela Northcott’s daughters interrupted a board meeting of Conwy and Denbighshire NHS Trust, but at the time, the trust said it was unable to authorise use of the drug. The sisters claimed that authorities in Wales were “hiding” behind the fact it has not been Nice-approved and were refusing to use it because of its cost. The drug, which can cost up to £40,000, is not a cure, but can help some patients.

Ms Spall now spends much of her time working with kidney patients in England, and claims to have helped many win the right to have Nexavar after appealing the decision of their trusts. She said: “I am determined to make sure nobody else has to go through this.”

In a statement after Tuesday’s meeting, the trust said the “All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) had decided not to recommend the use of Nexavar for patients in Wales”.

“The NHS in Wales is required to follow the recommendations of the AWMSG in all but exceptional circumstances. In view of this advice, the trust was unable to authorise the use of the drug, and any decision would therefore need to be made by the Denbighshire Local Health Board.”