A retired firefighter who was awarded an MBE has blasted the NHS after being refused potentially life-saving drugs – because he has been free from cancer for TOO LONG.
Mick Smith, 59, was diagnosed with Chronic Lympocytic Leukemia and underwent four months of gruelling chemotherapy in 2010.
The former firefighter and magistrate went into remission but earlier this year was rushed back to hospital after falling ill and blood tests confirmed the cancer had returned.
Because another course of chemotherapy could be fatal for Mick, who has also suffered a heart attack, a consultant advised him to take a new drug Ibrutinib.
It works by stopping the cancer cells growing, and despite the side effects it allows
patients to enjoy a better quality of life than chemotherapy.
But Mick, awarded an MBE in 2012 for services to his community on Netherfield, in Nottingham, is not eligible to receive the drug on the NHS because he was in remission for more than three years.
He started developing symptoms agian in August 2014 but was not immediately treated in line with the “watch and wait” policy until his health deteroriated this year.
As a result of blood tests showing he had been cancer free for three years and eight months, Mick says the rules are “killing him.”
Mick, who has two grown-up children and one grandchild, said: “My consultants all agree this lifesaving drug is what I should be treated with, but they cannot prescribe it to me because I was cancer free for too long.
“This decision by NHS England is literally killing me.
“It’s a postcode lottery because people in Wales and Scotland do qualify for the drug regardless of their time in remission.
“I am very angry that someone has got the power of life and death over me. I’m a good man, I have served my community, you would think people would help you.
“I am eight months on the wrong side of things and it is that eight months that could kill me.
“To me the situation is crazy because I’m effectively being punished because I didn’t have cancer.
“I’m kicking up a fuss now because someone has got to do it and I don’t know how much time I have left.”
Patients on Ibrutinib take four tablets a day and each tablet costs £51.10 meaning a month’s supply of 120 pills costs and whopping £6,132.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which gives guidance on what drugs should be available to patients recommends its use.
But NHS England says it has placed a three year remission limit on providing the drug.
A spokesperson said: “NHS England does fund the cancer drug Ibrutinib in line with NICE recommendations.
“The NICE recommendation was based on evidence about a group of patients for whom further treatment with chemo immunotherapy was not a good option.
“This did not include patients who had been in remission for more than three years where a further course of chemo immunotherapy would be considered the clinically
“Should a patient fail to respond to this, Ibrutinib would then be an option.
“Alongside NICE’s guidance, NHS England will always seek clinical advice from cancer doctors, and this has led to more patients being able to access Ibrutinib than would otherwise be covered by NICE recommendations.”
Mick and his wife Sue, 49, a pharmaceutical research scientist, have launched a petition on the Government website which has attracted 5,794 signatures demanding the NHS provides the drug to all cancer patients.
Sue, 49, said: “It is a frustrating situation because his consultant really wants to give Mick Ibrutinib.
“It really could improve his life now. He’s getting worse we need it as soon as possible.
“We’ve had to put our life on hold, we’re living day by day, and there’s many bad days. I think it’s wrong.
“I used to work for Astro Zeneca I know a lot of money and work goes into producing these drugs. NHS England not giving them out is a big problem.”