A KIDNEY cancer patient died from a rare reaction to a life-extending drug he was taking as part of a trial, an inquest heard.

Retired accountant Christopher Wilkinson suffered fatal liver and kidney failure after taking part in a clinical trial for Sorafenib at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital.

At an inquest in Oxford on Wednesday, county coroner Nicholas Gardiner said the 63-year-old’s death on January 27 was “likely to be the consequence of the Sorafenib treatment”.

His widow is now considering taking legal action.

Mr Wilkinson, of Morrells Close, Didcot, had a cancerous kidney removed by surgeons in August last year but was at “a high risk” of the disease returning, cancer specialist Dr Andrew Protheroe told the inquest.

He said there were no drugs that could be taken to prevent this type of cancer returning and that “the only standard approach for him would be surveillance”.

However, Mr Wilkinson was offered the chance to take part in a trial of Sorafenib, a drug already used to extend the life of liver cancer patients, to see whether it could keep kidney cancer at bay.

Having agreed to join the trial, Mr Wilkinson reported feeling unwell on January 15 and was seen at the hospital on January 19 with signs of jaundice, fatigue and “markedly abnormal” liver function, Dr Protheroe said.

Asked by the coroner whether he thought the liver problems were caused by the drug, Dr Protheroe replied: “I think it would be hard to say that it wasn’t.

“But to understand the cause of, or why it occurred, we have no answer.”

He said Sorafenib had been used on 140,000 patients worldwide, with only one reported death linked to kidney cancer and told the inquest the problems could have been linked to Mr Wilkinson’s genetic make-up and his body’s ability to metabolise the drug.

Dr Jane Collier, a consultant hepatologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Headington, who first treated Mr Wilkinson on January 21, said Sorafenib had been a huge success in treating liver cancer patients.

She said: “In my field of primary liver cancer there are no treatments if you are cirrhotic – this is the first drug ever to show an extension of life, by about three to four months.

“It has revolutionised management of patients with liver cancer.”

Pathologist Dr Ian Roberts told the hearing that Mr Wilkinson had suffered “liver failure, most probably associated to Sorafenib, although the association seems to be very rare”.

Mr Gardiner recorded a narrative verdict and said of the involvement of Sorafenib: “In this instance there’s a link, but it does not mean it’s necessary an undesirable drug.

“It is clearly a force for good in the general sense.”

After the inquest, Gary Walker, a solicitor who is acting for Mr Wilkinson’s widow Susanna, told the Oxford Mail: “Mrs Wilkinson is particularly concerned to find out whether her husband was actually a suitable candidate for this trial, given that he was reliant upon one kidney, and whether the drug can cause organ failure.

“She maintains Christopher did not receive an up-to-date patient information leaflet and so may not have had the full facts about the trial in order to make an informed decision.

“She will now be taking time to fully consider the evidence from the inquest before deciding whether she wishes to proceed with legal action.”