'You've picked on the wrong man'

PUBLISHED: 08:13 14 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:49 15 June 2010

A FORMER local government officer and war veteran has been refused potentially life-saving cancer treatment just days after the Herald reported his campaign to help a fellow sufferer. Alan Appleby, of Honey Ditches Drive, Seaton, was told last Thursday

A FORMER local government officer and war veteran has been refused potentially life-saving cancer treatment - just days after the Herald reported his campaign to help a fellow sufferer.Alan Appleby, of Honey Ditches Drive, Seaton, was told last Thursday that he would not be prescribed Cetuximab on the NHS. The drug could stop cancer cells growing and extend Mr Appleby's life. Only last week Mr Appleby told the Herald he had been so moved by Kilmington resident Leslie Talbot-Thompson's fight for a potentially life-saving drug that he was lobbying to get the refusal reversed and was calling for a cancer care conference to take place.A former senior civil servant in London and ex-serviceman stationed in Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II, Mr Appleby said: "I am devastated. I am now in exactly the same boat as Leslie Thompson-Talbot. Before I was on a moral crusade, but now it has become a personal one. It is absolutely appalling the way people are refused drugs on the NHS. But they have picked on the wrong man. I will really go to town with them - I know what buttons to push."According to the military covenant, the government has a moral commitment to give favourable treatment for ex-servicemen, including paying towards healthcare. "As an ex-serviceman, to see the government not honouring this covenant makes me feel very bitter, not just for me, but for other people too," said Mr Appleby."It's typical of the government that they make promises which they do not keep. Words are cheap."Reports have shown that over 60 years after the nuclear bombs were dropped at Hiroshima, people exposed to the radiation still have abnormal chromosomes in their bone marrow cells, including British ex-servicemen serving there.Mr Appleby said: "It's quite likely that I would have got the cancer in Hiroshima. I have got a strong ace card to play and I intend to use it." Dr Tim Burke, chairman of Devon Primary Care Trust's funding panel, said Mr Appleby's case had been looked at but did not meet the criteria for extra funding for unusual treatments.He said: "In Mr Appleby's circumstances, the drug we were requested to fund was Cetuximab and it was proposed to use this as his only treatment."This drug has been granted a UK licence only to be used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs when treating cancers. In such circumstances, there is very little information about the possible benefit of using Cetuximab alone."He added that NICE the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, did not recommend the use of the drug even with another chemotherapy drug.

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