HUNDREDS of cancer victims given hope as drug ‘cure’ is fast-tracked

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Lucy Johnston


A REVOLUTIONARY cancer drug expected to save hundreds of lives a year has been deemed so effective that the Government has bypassed red tape to make it available on the NHS immediately.

From tomorrow patients with advanced kidney cancer will be able to access the landmark drug nivolumab.The treatment has not yet been given a European licence but in a rare move government health officials have decided to release it straight away.

The treatment, which prompts the body’s own immune system to destroy malignant cells, was recently trialed in more than 800 patients with terminal stage disease and results showed cancers were cleared or halted, extending the lives of some for more than two years.

Patients also reported very few side effects, unlike traditional cancer medicines such as chemotherapy.Dr James Larkin, consultant medical oncologist, who led the British arm of the international trial at London’s Royal Marsden, said: “Earlier access to innovative treatments is of huge importance and I am very pleased that the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Authority has recognised the life-extending benefit nivolumab can offer to patients with advanced kidney cancer.”

Patricia Rapp, 66-year-old practice nurse, from Epsom, Surrey, was diagnosed with kidney cancer aged 47 after a routine check up with her doctor for an unrelated issue.

Over the 14 years that followed the cancer spread to other organs including a lung and pancreas which were surgically removed.

However when two inoperable tumours were found on her liver, doctors resorted to chemotherapy, which failed.

Mrs Rapp, mother of two, was put on the nivolumab trial in August 2013 and six months later declared disease free.

She has been in full remission since then.She said: “It’s like a miracle. The drug has had no side effects at all and it’s amazing.

“It has saved my life and given me my life back as I feel so well.”