Herceptin appeal

Herceptin solicitors

23.03.2006

Long suffering breast cancer patient, Ann Marie Rogers returns to the High Courts next week, in her appeal against the High Court Judgement served in February 2006, refusing her the life saving drug Herceptin. Represented by national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, her case will be heard at the Court of Appeal on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th March.

This landmark case marks the first time a persons right to receive Herceptin had been fully considered by the courts. Until now, all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), have backed down and supplied the drug to patients. In the case of Ann Marie Rogers, Mr Justice Bean found in favour of Swindon PCT and ruled that their decision not to supply Ann Marie Rogers with Herceptin, despite her clinicians recommendation, was not unlawful. Swindon PCT argued they would only fund the course of treatment if they felt the patient was exceptional. However, the court did order that Ms Rogers receive treatment, pending the appeal, and this was to be funded by the PCT.

Breast cancer drug denial

Recent financial reports published by Swindon PCT have shown that they expect to have underspent their annual budget by £750,000, and will therefore be able to help fund other PCTs, outside of the Swindon area, who may have overspent. So far, their case, against Ms Rogers, is estimated to have cost upwards of £50,000.

Yogi Amin, Irwin Mitchell said "The Secretary of State issued a statement in the commons on Wednesday 1st March 2006 which leaves the door open for health authorities across the country to adopt conflicting policies on the provision of Herceptin.

Mr Amin continued Our client Ann Marie Rogers and other breast cancer sufferers would like the Secretary of State to come forward and bring an end to the grossly unfair postcode lottery. She needs to be clear that social factors should not be taken into account by PCTs when deciding on whom to provide Herceptin. Breast cancer patients want to ensure that their access to life saving drugs, which their doctors prescribe, will not be overruled by a group of financial managers who decide whether they can be deemed an 'exceptional' person and that their life is 'exceptional' in some way. There is no good reason for the health authority to ration this essential drug treatment."

Ms Rogers said I am facing a death sentence if I cannot receive Herceptin. This battle against the bureaucracy created by hospital managers to receive the drug that my clinician has prescribed for me, has taken its toll and I am placing my faith in the court.

The herceptin legal case so far

Herceptin breast cancer drug, according to evidence, halves the chances of the aggressive HER-2 form of the disease returning. If the disease returns it will kill her.

Despite her clinician (consultant oncologist) recommending she receive the drug treatment, Ann Marie was denied the drug on grounds of a lack of regulatory approval and alleged lack of exceptional circumstances. However what is exceptional has yet to be defined. The PCT have said that a patient that has a child with disabilities/life threatening illness may be considered exceptional.

Guidelines have been issued by the NCRI (National Cancer Research Institute) on the safe use of the drug in early stage breast cancer patients. The Department of Health has issued this guidance to all health authorities.

Hospital managers have overruled the decision of the specialist doctors in this case. They have also ignored the view of the Governments National Cancer Tzar, Professor Mike Richards, who has given evidence to the court that in his opinion all women in Ms Rogers circumstances should be considered exceptional cases.

Mrs Rogers is currently receiving the drug as part of an interim order awarded to her by the court until her appeal is heard but will require a full treatment of the drug estimated to cost approx. £30,000.

Ms Rogers continues to argue that the PCTs refusal to provide Herceptin is unfair and in breach of her Human Rights.

A recent report released by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts in January 2006 identified that even cases of cancer for which the drug is licensed and approved by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) the chances of survival are dictated by a postcode lottery in drug treatment. The report states the use of the drug Herceptin for mestatic breast cancer in the 6 month period 12 to 18 months following NICE approval in early 2002 ranged across cancer networks from 90% to under 10% of eligible women.

If you require further information please contact Yogi Amin on 0370 1500 100 or yogi.amin@irwinmitchell.com.

Have you got a claim? If we can help you or someone you know with a similar case, please visit our Human Rights section.

Relevant contact - Yogi Amin