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Drug decision anger

31st August 2007

Three cancer patients have talked about feeling "angry and disappointed" over a decision to allow just one of them access to Velcade on the NHS.

PillPacket1Velcade can help to extend the life span of patients by slowing down the development of myeloma. Myeloma is a cancer which attacks bone marrow cells in the body.

The three patients - Janice Wrigglesworth, Jacky Pickles and Marie Morton, from Keighley, West Yorkshire - had campaigned for the health service to provide them with the treatment.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) released a document in June 2007 which stated that patients would be given Velcade by the NHS. Their decision followed a promise by Velcade's maker to refund the health service if patients did not respond to treatment.

NICE's latest decision will mean that only patients who have had a "first relapse" will be given the drug.

A spokeswoman for the watchdog said: "Our assessment is that this drug is most cost-effective at first relapse."

This decision means only Janice Wrigglesworth will be able to be treated using Velcade on the NHS.

The three cancer patients released a joint statement to comment on NICE's decision. They said that Janice Wrigglesworth and other recently diagnosed multiple myeloma patients felt "joy and relief."

However, for Marie Morton and other patients suffering a "second or third relapse", they said the decision "is simply too little too late."

The women said they were "angry and disappointed that NICE has once again moved the goalposts."

NICE's spokeswoman said that "we make it clear that recommendations can and do change".

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