Herceptin case winner dies of breast cancer

A woman whose battle to be prescribed Herceptin paved the way for thousands of others to access the breast cancer drug has finally succumbed to the disease.

Ann Marie Rogers won a landmark legal victory in 2006 against Swindon primary care trust, which had refused to give her the life-prolonging drug. Her son, Lee Woodrough, said yesterday the family was "devastated" by her death but would always be "immensely proud of her bravery in fighting for the right to the treatment". Ms Rogers died at home on Monday, aged 57.

Mr Woodrough said: "Every day is precious when you have someone fighting cancer in your family. The treatment gave her that chance to live. 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."

Yogi Amin, from the Irwin Mitchell law firm, who represented Ms Rogers throughout her legal battle, said her courage had been an "inspiration" and had paved the way for thousands of women to benefit from Herceptin.

He said: "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."

In April 2006, Ms Rogers stood on the steps of the Court of Appeal and said her victory had given her back her future. The mother-of-three, a former restaurant manager from Haydon Wick, Swindon, said: "I feel like I've taken on the world and beaten it, not just for me but for everyone else."

Three judges overturned an earlier decision by a High Court judge that Swindon's policy of only paying out for "exceptional cases" was not unlawful.

Following the decision, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) approved Herceptin on the NHS for thousands of women.

Barbara Clark, a former nurse and breast cancer survivor, also won her battle to get Herceptin on the NHS and was with Ms Rogers on the day she won her battle in the Court of Appeal.

Ms Clark, from Bridgwater, in Somerset, yesterday said that she had "saved so many lives".

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