The family of a woman who fought a long legal battle for the right to be treated with the breast cancer drug Herceptin have paid tribute to her courage after she lost her long fight with cancer.
Anne Marie Rogers, who won a landmark ruling in the High Court against her local PCT trust in Swindon, died on Monday at home.
Yogi Amin, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, who represented Ms Rogers throughout her legal battle, today described her as an 'inspiration' and said her courage and determination had paved the way for thousands of women fighting breast cancer throughout the UK to benefit from Herceptin treatment and other groundbreaking new treatments.
Ms Rogers was prescribed the drug by her consultant oncologist after being diagnosed with breast cancer but was then denied the treatment by Swindon PCT on the grounds of a lack of regulatory approval at the time and an alleged lack of exceptional circumstances.
After a long-running legal fight using British human rights law, a landmark ruling from three appeal court judges, given by the Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke, ruled there was no 'rational basis' for preferring one patient to another and quashed the decision by the PCT. Herceptin was subsequently approved for funding by regulatory body NICE.
Mrs Rogers' son, Lee Woodrough, said: "We are all naturally devastated by Anne Marie's death but we will always be immensely proud of her bravery in fighting for the right to the treatment she deserved.
"Tragically, in my mum's case, it could not save her life but we believe very strongly that it may well have helped her to live for as much as two years longer than if she had not been prescribed it. Every day is precious when you have someone fighting cancer in your family. The treatment gave her that chance to live."
He added: "My mum fought the PCT’s decision not just for herself but for every single woman who is battling breast cancer. She may have lost her fight against cancer but thousands of women now and in the future will benefit from Herceptin because of her bravery.
"I would also like to take the opportunity to say a special thank you to Dr David Cole, consultant clinical oncologist, and his team including all the nurses and staff that helped so much and also Mr Marcus Galea, consultant surgeon."
Mr Amin, from Irwin Mitchell's Public Law team, said: "Anne Marie was always utterly determined to win her fight for the treatment she was entitled to and it is desperately sad that she has now lost her fight against cancer.
"She was genuinely an inspiration to be around and showed tremendous courage and determination at what must have been a very difficult time for her and her family."