A CANCER sufferer whose life has been extended by a drug trial is devastated after it was ruled “too expensive”
for the NHS.
Kevin Hughes, 58, was given three years to live after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer last April.
After taking part in a clinical trial for the drug Abiraterone before having chemotherapy, doctors now think he will live longer than three years.
The drug is available on the NHS to men who have gone through chemotherapy, but the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ruled this week the treatment is too expensive to give to men before chemotherapy.
Mr Hughes, of May Avenue, Canvey, said: “Under normal circumstances they give people Abiraterone when they are in the very advanced stages and everything else has failed.
“Nice’s decision is a very bad one. I can empirically show what the drug has done for me.
“It’s just wonderful. Before I got on it, people were calling it the wonder drug and I have to say it’s pretty special.”
Mr Hughes was being treated with Zolodex hormone injections, which resulted in hot sweats and fatigue, and had radiotherapy before the start of the clinical trial.
He said: “I had no symptoms, so when I was diagnosed, let’s say it wasn’t my best day. I walked around in a fog for a week and so did my wife. But you get over it, readjust and get on with it.
“I was on the hormone therapy injections and the side effects were not great, but take it on the chin and get on with it.”
Before being chosen for the trial, a blood test to measure the prostate-specific antigen found Mr Hughes’ count had rocketed to 500.
The normal range is between five and six.
He said: “It was coming down nicely on the Zolodex, but since being on Abiraterone, it dropped completely. One year on my count is so low it is undetectable.
“I would say my three-year prognosis has gone flying out of the window.
“My doctors are more cautious, but agree I will probably go past the dates they first thought.
“It’s a no brainer, it just works and personally I have had no side effects from it.
“It should be given to men before they even have to go through chemotherapy.”
FROM April 2013 to March 2014, Abiraterone pre-chemotherapy was the second most requested drug of England’sCancer Drugs Fund.
On Sunday, June 29, former Health Minister Paul Burstow urged the Department of Health to intervene in the Nice process and call offthe proposed restriction on use of Abiraterone before chemotherapy.
Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, slammed Nice’sdecision.
He said: “It’safiasco. This decision is akick in the teeth for men with advanced prostate cancer.For many, this presented avital opportunity for extra time with loved ones and achance to delay chemotherapy and the debilitating side effects which come with it.”