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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cancer sufferer loses drug fight

A woman has lost her High Court battle to force her local health authority to pay for breast cancer treatment with the potentially life-saving drug Herceptin.

Mr Justice Bean said that he could not deem the policy adopted by Swindon primary care trust, Ann Marie Rogers's local National Health Service trust, of refusing to fund treatment in the absence of "exceptional circumstances" as irrational and, therefore, unlawful.

He also said the mother-of-three had failed to show Swindon PCT's stance breached guidelines from Patricia Hewitt, health secretary. "Despite my sympathy with Mrs Rogers's plight, I must dismiss the claim for judicial review," he said.

Yesterday's decision is the first time an English court has ruled on the lawfulness of a primary care trust policy that refuses to fund treatment in the absence of "exceptional circumstances" and could have widespread implications for hundreds of other women in a position similar to Mrs Rogers. But Mr Justice Bean did give Mrs Rogers, 54, permission to appeal against his decision, and also ordered that temporary funding of her treatment, which has been allowed while the legal battle was under way, should be continued until the end of March.



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