Patient's anger over drug ruling

A WOMAN with a chronic digestive disease fears she could be denied treatment under government plans to control spending on drugs.

A WOMAN with a chronic digestive disease fears she could be denied treatment under government plans to control spending on drugs.

Ruth Holmes, 54, of Hartree Way, Kesgrave and her son both suffer from Crohn's disease, a condition that can cause symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and extreme abdominal pain.

But she fears she could be denied suitable treatment under proposals by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to stop funding drugs used to treat acute Crohn's disease.

She said: “It is an absolute outrage. There are so many people going to suffer. I do not think the government does enough for people with Crohn's disease.

“It is a life-threatening disease. They have got to think of the people who are suffering and the parents who have got to watch their children go through the symptoms.

“It is awful to watch and you do not know what to do for the best, and sometimes you are at your wits' end.”

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The drugs Remicade and Humira are commonly used for the treatment of severe Crohn's disease, but NICE has conducted a review of the expensive drugs' cost-effectiveness.

At the moment, the decision to supply a patient with the drugs is taken by local NHS Primary Care Trusts on an individual basis.

NICE is due to decide whether to make the drugs available to patients all over the country, or to stop providing it altogether, except to those who already receive it.

Kristen O'Leary from NICE said it will be a balanced decision so that all patients, no matter where they live in the country, will have the same rights to the drug.

Mrs Holmes, who had a bad reaction to Remicade, is currently trialling a new drug, Certolizumab Pegol, at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, but she says when she comes off it, Humira will be the only option available to her.

She said her 20-year-old son, who does not want to be named, is currently being treated with steroids but will need to transfer to Humira or Remicade at some point.

Mrs Holmes fears if the new guidelines prevent health authorities from supplying the drug to new patients, she and her son will be left with nothing to prevent their pain.

She said: “If they can stop the suffering with the drugs, why would they stop funding them? The next step would probably be to go abroad because I am sure they are not holding them back in America.

A charity event to raise money in aid of Crohn's disease sufferers will take place at the Waterfront on Friday.

The National Association for Colitis and Crohn's will hold a fundraising raffle at the CoffeeLink espresso bar on Neptune Marina from 7pm.

For £5, visitors will get a cup of tea or coffee, a slice of cake and entry into the raffle, which included prizes from a variety of local businesses.

Tickets can be bought at CoffeeLink or by telephoning 07730 571200. People unable to attend can also buy raffle tickets or make donations beforehand.

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