Cancer charity appeals for Gran's drug

PUBLISHED: 16:03 23 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:45 24 May 2010

A UK charity is backing a terminally-ill Backwell pensioner's battle to receive a drug which would extend her life and reduce her suffering. Former nurse Lena Simpson, of Station Road, was diagnosed with lung cancer in May and told she had just six months

A UK charity is backing a terminally-ill Backwell pensioner's battle to receive a drug which would extend her life and reduce her suffering.Former nurse Lena Simpson, of Station Road, was diagnosed with lung cancer in May and told she had just six months to live.The disease was so advanced that the grandmother-of-two could not have chemotherapy or radiotherapy.Ever since, the 64-year-old has been calling on North Somerset Primary Care Trust (PCT) to pay for her to have a daily dose of Tarceva.The drug, which costs up to £70 per day, would extend Lena's life and relieve her pain, ease her breathing and suppress her cough.The PCT has turned down the pensioner's request for funding twice, but she has lodged an appeal which is being considered this week.The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is urging the trust to pay for the treatment.Lena said: "I thought the reason the NHS was set up, was to help people who couldn't afford to pay for treatment."I have no other means of raising the money."Susan Christie, the charity's patient support co-ordinator, said: "Lena should have access to the best treatment and care for her illness."It's ridiculous that when clinicians are saying Tarceva would help Lena, they are not being given the option to use it." A spokesman for North Somerset PCT said: "A request was received for Tarceva, which is not normally funded and for which NICE guidance is currently awaited."This request was considered appropriately and declined and Mrs Simpson has appealed against that decision."We are making every effort to deal with this matter speedily and have brought forward the date on which the appeal will be heard."* The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation's free helpline number is 0800 358 7200.

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