Cancer victim Kevin's wonder drug ruled too expensive for NHS

Drug trials – Kevin Hughes was given three years to live after he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer

Drug trials – Kevin Hughes was given three years to live after he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer

First published in Local News by

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.”

Comments (9)

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7:45am Tue 19 Aug 14

abd123 says...

To call this a no brainer is nonsense. The Nice report is over 200 pages of complex analysis and is based on the fact that you cannot have an uncontrolled expenditure to allow people extra life. There are a large number of such drugs and people who want them. At over £50,000 per year it could be spent on having say paramedics attending heart attacks saving lots of lives, not extending one. Have a think about ways lots of £50,000s could save lives permanently rather than extend them. This is not a simple subject.
To call this a no brainer is nonsense. The Nice report is over 200 pages of complex analysis and is based on the fact that you cannot have an uncontrolled expenditure to allow people extra life. There are a large number of such drugs and people who want them. At over £50,000 per year it could be spent on having say paramedics attending heart attacks saving lots of lives, not extending one. Have a think about ways lots of £50,000s could save lives permanently rather than extend them. This is not a simple subject. abd123
  • Score: -3

8:14am Tue 19 Aug 14

Bigmama1 says...

Well, they have to save money to pay all the immigrants benefits somehow!
I'm so sorry to read this and hope there is a rethink soon for this poor man to continue with this drug.
Disgusting treatment being handed out to patients continually.
Well, they have to save money to pay all the immigrants benefits somehow! I'm so sorry to read this and hope there is a rethink soon for this poor man to continue with this drug. Disgusting treatment being handed out to patients continually. Bigmama1
  • Score: 5

8:39am Tue 19 Aug 14

DonaldUnpleasance says...

abd123 wrote:
To call this a no brainer is nonsense. The Nice report is over 200 pages of complex analysis and is based on the fact that you cannot have an uncontrolled expenditure to allow people extra life. There are a large number of such drugs and people who want them. At over £50,000 per year it could be spent on having say paramedics attending heart attacks saving lots of lives, not extending one. Have a think about ways lots of £50,000s could save lives permanently rather than extend them. This is not a simple subject.
By extension to your argument why bother sending out paramedics out to attend folk with heart attacks? After all contrary to your suggestion nobody’s life is ever saved “permanently”, and it could be argued that any medical intervention in any situation will only ever stave off the inevitable.

Perhaps the NHS model has become out moded, perhaps it is unsustainable and I would agree that £50,000 is a lot of money, the high cost of these sort of treatments is almost inevitable given the nature of the health industry, but what price do you put on life? Difficult decisions have to be made when there are limited funds and I feel for the people who have to make those decisions, but not as much as I feel for Kevin Hughes and his family. Kevin, I salute your stoicism and I wish you all the best in what is a most unsatisfactory situation.
[quote][p][bold]abd123[/bold] wrote: To call this a no brainer is nonsense. The Nice report is over 200 pages of complex analysis and is based on the fact that you cannot have an uncontrolled expenditure to allow people extra life. There are a large number of such drugs and people who want them. At over £50,000 per year it could be spent on having say paramedics attending heart attacks saving lots of lives, not extending one. Have a think about ways lots of £50,000s could save lives permanently rather than extend them. This is not a simple subject.[/p][/quote]By extension to your argument why bother sending out paramedics out to attend folk with heart attacks? After all contrary to your suggestion nobody’s life is ever saved “permanently”, and it could be argued that any medical intervention in any situation will only ever stave off the inevitable. Perhaps the NHS model has become out moded, perhaps it is unsustainable and I would agree that £50,000 is a lot of money, the high cost of these sort of treatments is almost inevitable given the nature of the health industry, but what price do you put on life? Difficult decisions have to be made when there are limited funds and I feel for the people who have to make those decisions, but not as much as I feel for Kevin Hughes and his family. Kevin, I salute your stoicism and I wish you all the best in what is a most unsatisfactory situation. DonaldUnpleasance
  • Score: 8

11:00am Tue 19 Aug 14

Jack222 says...

AS I understand it the increased life expectancy is 4 months (based on the USA FDA trials). The 3 years mentioned includes how long he had to live anyway plus the average 4 months extension. Is that worth £50,000? That's an individual call.
AS I understand it the increased life expectancy is 4 months (based on the USA FDA trials). The 3 years mentioned includes how long he had to live anyway plus the average 4 months extension. Is that worth £50,000? That's an individual call. Jack222
  • Score: -5

11:05am Tue 19 Aug 14

sesibollox says...

Ask for a pair of T1Ts as your changing sex, no problem...
Ask for a pair of T1Ts as your changing sex, no problem... sesibollox
  • Score: -1

12:01pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Now listen for I have something to say says...

Go private, you paid for that garden, now pay for your health.
Go private, you paid for that garden, now pay for your health. Now listen for I have something to say
  • Score: 0

12:35pm Tue 19 Aug 14

I-say-you-say says...

Now listen for I have something to say wrote:
Go private, you paid for that garden, now pay for your health.
What on earth does his garden have to do with anything?! He has worked hard his whole life, he has a young family including young granddaughters who he may never see grow up and get married etc and they will lose a grandfather at very young ages!

Any possible way to extend his life should not have a monetary value put on it. It's as simple as that!

People get given thousand pound "aesthetic" medical assistances all because they're "quality of life is lessened", people who have never stepped foot in this country - let alone paid a penny towards it - are given healthcare (including homes etc), so why shouldn't these drugs be made available?!

And what is in them that makes them cost so much?! Pure platinum?! It's greed on the pharmaceutical companies part and they need to realise that this will be doing them no favours.

Get the cost lowered or abolished, there is no price when extending a life!
[quote][p][bold]Now listen for I have something to say[/bold] wrote: Go private, you paid for that garden, now pay for your health.[/p][/quote]What on earth does his garden have to do with anything?! He has worked hard his whole life, he has a young family including young granddaughters who he may never see grow up and get married etc and they will lose a grandfather at very young ages! Any possible way to extend his life should not have a monetary value put on it. It's as simple as that! People get given thousand pound "aesthetic" medical assistances all because they're "quality of life is lessened", people who have never stepped foot in this country - let alone paid a penny towards it - are given healthcare (including homes etc), so why shouldn't these drugs be made available?! And what is in them that makes them cost so much?! Pure platinum?! It's greed on the pharmaceutical companies part and they need to realise that this will be doing them no favours. Get the cost lowered or abolished, there is no price when extending a life! I-say-you-say
  • Score: 3

3:30pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Idontknowy says...

Bigmama1 wrote:
Well, they have to save money to pay all the immigrants benefits somehow!
I'm so sorry to read this and hope there is a rethink soon for this poor man to continue with this drug.
Disgusting treatment being handed out to patients continually.
Agree with you. There's another 34 illegals who have come in via Tilbury and are claiming asylum here. I feel sorry for them but GB is an island far away from their place of origin. They should be returned to the first safe country they went through on their jouney. If our Govt. toughened up a lot and did what other countries do i.e. look after their own first, then there would be enough money in the pot to treat the people, like this man, who have contributed to the pot via taxes, national insurance etc., etc.
[quote][p][bold]Bigmama1[/bold] wrote: Well, they have to save money to pay all the immigrants benefits somehow! I'm so sorry to read this and hope there is a rethink soon for this poor man to continue with this drug. Disgusting treatment being handed out to patients continually.[/p][/quote]Agree with you. There's another 34 illegals who have come in via Tilbury and are claiming asylum here. I feel sorry for them but GB is an island far away from their place of origin. They should be returned to the first safe country they went through on their jouney. If our Govt. toughened up a lot and did what other countries do i.e. look after their own first, then there would be enough money in the pot to treat the people, like this man, who have contributed to the pot via taxes, national insurance etc., etc. Idontknowy
  • Score: 3

3:34pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Idontknowy says...

Now listen for I have something to say wrote:
Go private, you paid for that garden, now pay for your health.
Wonder how you would feel if you got a life threatening illness such as this. You'd soon find that putting a few paving slabs and a lawn down wouldn't pay for your treatment
[quote][p][bold]Now listen for I have something to say[/bold] wrote: Go private, you paid for that garden, now pay for your health.[/p][/quote]Wonder how you would feel if you got a life threatening illness such as this. You'd soon find that putting a few paving slabs and a lawn down wouldn't pay for your treatment Idontknowy
  • Score: -1

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