Cancer campaigner takes fight to downing Street

Clive Stone

Clive Stone

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

A CAMPAIGNER battling for the rights of cancer patients is taking his fight to Downing Street.

Last year Clive Stone, of Freeland, near Witney, led a successful campaign to get the NHS to pay for Sunitinib, a life-extending drug for kidney cancer patients.

Now Mr Stone, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2007, is taking on the Government over the “appalling” process he says cancer patients have to go through to get vital drugs.

Mr Stone, 62, is a member of the Kidney Cancer Support Network, KCSN, a group which has set up a petition fighting the procedures of the Government’s health advisory panel – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

Nice tells the NHS which medicines, treatments and procedures the service should provide.

Mr Stone is spearheading the Oxfordshire arm of the campaign which is calling for a radical reform of the system.

He said: “The Nice process of appraisal is extremely bureaucratic, callous, time consuming, outdated and in desperate need of radical reform.

“We are asking people to write to their MPs and to sign this petition to the Prime Minister. A review of this cruel process is long overdue before England’s five year cancer survival rates disappear off the bottom of the league table.”

In August 2008 Mr Stone took a group of campaigners to protest outside Nice’s headquarters in London, as part of a campaign to get Sunitinib, also known as Sutent, to be used as a first line treatment for renal cancer.

Last February the group won its campaign, but it has since suffered knock backs in trying to get the body to approve drugs as second line treatment – meaning the options for people who cannot take Sunitinib are limited.

Last week a drug called Everolimus became the latest to be turned down by Nice in draft guidance because it was deemed too expensive.

Mr Stone and the KCSN has urged supporters to appeal before it was too late.

He said: “We only have until March 2 to appeal. The clock is once again ticking against many of us.

“The treatment of rarer cancers will always be expensive as the drug companies will want to concentrate on the larger markets.

“But we’re fearful that they will soon be stopping trials in this country because of harsh Nice decisions.”

Nice said it was aware of the petition and all comments received through its website regarding the recommendation of Everolimus would be fully considered.

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