Sunderland cancer survivor disgusted as NHS axe life-extending cancer drug

Katie Taylor is recovering from breast cancer.
Katie Taylor is recovering from breast cancer.
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A BREAST cancer survivor has branded a move not to provide a life-extending cancer drug on the NHS “disgusting.”

Mum Katie Taylor is waiting for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy earlier this year.

The 41-year-old, of Ryhope, was diagnosed with breast cancer last November and has been receiving treatment at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

She was speaking about her recovery as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) published a draft decision saying it would not provide life-extending drug Pertuzumab as a treatment for an advanced form of the disease.

The drug, also known as Perjeta, was widely welcomed when it was first introduced. It targets the HER-2 gene found in 20 per cent of breast cancer patients.

Trials have found that when used alongside the drug Herceptin and chemotherapy, patients live an average of six months longer without their cancer getting worse.

Katie said: “It’s disgusting. We pay our taxes. I’ve been paying into the system for years and years.

“Surely, if it is a National Health Service, then that means it is for everybody. There should be no reason why a drug should not be made available.”

At present, patients can access the drug through the Cancer Drugs Fund, but it is not routinely available through the NHS.

However, a spokeswoman for Nice said it cannot recommend it for widespread use because “clinical trial data could not predict how long the drug might extend people’s lives for, yet it costs much more than current NHS treatments.”

Katie, who has undergone three weeks of radiotherapy, said: “The treatment I received at Sunderland Royal Hospital was fantastic and I was seen very quickly.

“Surely the very nature of the NHS means that these drugs should be available to everyone regardless of cost.”

Nice chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: “The committee noted that even the manufacturer estimated that the treatment would not be considered cost-effective for the NHS. We have now launched a consultation to gather comments from interested parties to develop the guidance further.”