Woman wins ruling over breast cancer drug

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The Independent Online

A mother-of-three has won the right to mount a legal challenge to her local NHS trust's refusal to give her the breast cancer drug Herceptin.

Ann Marie Rogers, 53, has been refused the as yet unlicensed drug - which is said to halve the chances of the aggressive HER-2 form of breast cancer - by Swindon Primary Care Trust (PCT).

She has borrowed £5,000 for three treatments so far but says she cannot afford to fund further courses.

The former restaurant manager of Haydon Wick, Swindon, was not at London's High Court to hear Mr Justice Charles rule that she had an arguable case which merited a full hearing.

He said that the issues raised applied to a number of people up and down the country and were of general and public importance.

He ordered that the PCT should continue her treatment with the drug pending the hearing which may not take place until February 22, although he categorised it as very urgent.

"I appreciate that any decision made on an interim basis may be treated as a precedent for other cases but, in my view, I have to deal with this case as it stands before me."

Earlier this year, nurse Barbara Clarke, 49, from Bridgwater in Somerset, succeeded in a similar case against Somerset Coast PCT which was forced to provide her Herceptin course.

In another similar case Elaine Barber, 41, threatened to take North Stoke PCT to court but it backed down beforehand and agreed to supply the drug.

After the hearing, Mrs Rogers's solicitor Yogi Amin, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, spoke to her by mobile telephone to break the news.

He said: "Ann Marie said it was fantastic news. She was quite emotional when she found out about the news and her own words were that it has made her Christmas.

"Now she doesn't have to worry over Christmas about whether or not she is going to receive the next treatment.

"She just hopes that at the full hearing the court grants the order to provide Herceptin."

David Standard, a spokesman for Irwin Mitchell, said outside court: "We are delighted the judge has seen fit to voice the general and public importance of this issue and that he has drawn specific attention to the postcode lottery point.

"Overall, what we are delighted about is that in the interim, between now and a full hearing, our client will be provided with Herceptin."