Drug funding refused for Radlett cancer sufferer

A DRUG which could save the life of a man suffering from the advanced stages of bowel cancer has been refused by the local primary care trust. Patrick McMahon, who lives in Watling Street, Radlett, has been operated on and treated with both chemotherapy a

A DRUG which could save the life of a man suffering from the advanced stages of bowel cancer has been refused by the local primary care trust.

Patrick McMahon, who lives in Watling Street, Radlett, has been operated on and treated with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy since he became a patient at Watford Hospital and Mount Vernon.

His oncologist has now applied on his behalf for the drug Cetuximab which is not on the list of drugs approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Although he has applied under exceptional circumstances, the request has been turned down and Mr McMahon is now facing a fresh course of chemotherapy with another drug.


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But father-of-three Mr McMahon, aged 57, said this week: "My oncologist is in no doubt that Cetuximab is the right drug for me. He feels strongly enough to appeal on my behalf."

Cetuximab is currently used to treat cancer of the large bowel that has come back after initial treatment and has spread to other parts of the body. It is mainly given alongside chemotherapy.

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Mr McMahon first suspected he might have bowel cancer four years ago and was initially treated privately. Although at first surgery to remove a tumour appeared to have been successful, his condition deteriorated again and he had to switch to the National Health because he could no longer afford to pay for the treatment.

But he was still not convinced the cancer had gone and in 2006 a routine colonoscopy revealed another tumour. He had both radiotherapy and chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before an operation to remove it but he was found still to have cancerous cells.

The cancer has now spread and his oncologist is convinced that Cetuximab is the best way to treat it but last Wednesday, Mr McMahon heard that the bid for funding had been unsuccessful. Unable to work - he was a self-employed gardener - he has no prospect of funding the drug himself.

Mr McMahon has been in contact with the national charity Bowel Cancer UK which has agreed to take on his case and he has been put in touch with a lawyer who would be prepared to act on his behalf.

A spokesperson for the West Herts Primary Care Trust said they were looking into the circumstances surrounding the decision and would make a full response as soon as possible.

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