August 7, 2008
Denying Cancer Patients Four Drugs ‘Barbaric’
By JANE KIRBY
Broadcaster James Whale accused a health watchdog today of being "barbaric" in denying kidney cancer patients access to four drugs.
The star, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2000 and set up a charity to raise awareness, said the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) was a "very badly named organisation".
He slammed Nice's decision - which is subject to appeal - to deny patients access to Sutent (sunitinib), Avastin (bevacizumab), Nexavar (sorafenib) and Torisel (temsirolimus) on the NHS.
Mr Whale was 49 when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 after detecting blood in his urine.
"I had a very large tumour on my left kidney and had the kidney removed," he said.
"It's quite a shock to be diagnosed with cancer at any age. At that time there were no drugs available.
"Drugs, chemotherapy and radiotherapy don't work very well on internal organs.
"I was told by my specialist, 'If you want, you can have treatment but the possibility is that it might do you more harm than good'.
"But the new drugs are very important in treating this particular cancer."
He added: "I can only assume that the members of Nice - a very badly named organisation - have never been in this situation.
"Monetary considerations don't come into it.
"I think it's barbaric and it's politically motivated, in my view."
He questioned the point of charities raising money for research into new drugs, only for the drugs to then not be prescribed.
"What's the point?" he said.
He continued: "More people die from kidney cancer every year than die on the roads. If we could get a fraction of the money they spend on trying to stop road deaths each year then we could really do something."
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