Election `97: Charity raised the cash for drug NHS could not afford

THE CANCER SUFFERER'S TALE
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The Independent Online
Lynette Jackson had to resort to the collecting tin to pay for drug treatment for her cancer. The local health authority in Swindon where she lives said the drug, Taxol, which costs pounds 9,000 for a course of injections was too expensive for the NHS.

Her ovarian cancer was advanced and other treatments had failed to curb it. Aged 36 and denied the last chance the new drug offered, she turned to charity to provide the treatment the NHS could not. Her local paper the Swindon Evening Advertiser ran a campaign to raise the money and her treatment, paid for privately, was completed last month.

Mrs Jackson, who is married and has two children, saw her 47-year-old sister die from the disease last year. She said: "It is hard enough trying to fight the cancer without this extra pressure. I just want to highlight what a mess the system is in. All the doctors have been brilliant. They are just as angry as us about the whole thing."

Although Taxol, made from the Pacific Yew Tree, is not a cure, trials have shown it can extend life. The New England Journal of Medicine said in January last year that it should be regarded as "standard therapy for women with advanced ovarian cancer".

However, Wiltshire health authority claimed that the value of the drug was "not proven". It said that decisions about whether to provide expensive drugs such as Taxol were taken on the "best possible clinical evidence".

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