Marie left to pick up bill for Herceptin
PUBLISHED: 07:01 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 24 May 2010
A WOMAN has paid out thousands of pounds for cancer treatment, despite news that patients will be treated free of charge from next month. Weston nurse Marie Robjohn, of Stanhope Road, has built up a huge debt taking Herceptin to try to prevent a reoccuren
A WOMAN has paid out thousands of pounds for cancer treatment, despite news that patients will be treated free of charge from next month.Weston nurse Marie Robjohn, of Stanhope Road, has built up a huge debt taking Herceptin to try to prevent a reoccurence of her breast cancer.Last week, North Somerset Primary Care Trust decided to make the drug available on the NHS to women with certain forms of breast cancer from early July, following advice from Government body the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).Mrs Robjohn, aged 60, has been told the trust will not pick up the tab for the Herceptin she has already used, but she will get the drug free from July.Mrs Robjohn said: "I've had 11 doses and owe £1,500 for each of them. My treatment finishes in October."It became available around the country for people like me last July. I feel really hard done by because other women already get the drug for free."The situation is all the more upsetting for Mrs Robjohn because patients in the neighbouring Somerset Coast PCT are already getting the drug on the NHS.This week, when Marie got her monthly dose at Weston General Hospital she found herself sitting next to a woman from Cheddar who is getting the drug free.A North Somerset PCT spokesman said: "We welcome the clarity from NICE on who we can make Herceptin available to safely and effectively. This is the information we were waiting for."We have already been carrying out preparation work so we can introduce it very soon in a planned and fair way to all patients who will benefit."Drugs which have not been licensed and evaluated by NICE are not normally made available because an assessment of their side effects and benefits has not been carried out. "We understand this can cause disappointment, but drugs which have been made available in the past before licensing and independent evaluation have had to be withdrawn because they were found to be more harmful than beneficial. "There is no reason why we would fund Herceptin retrospectively. We want to stress that only a limited group of women will benefit from the drug.