Father, 29, suffering from ten brain tumours refused cancer drug that could prolong his life on cost grounds
Course of medication costs 33,600 per year, which South Tyneside Primary Care Trust say is too much
Fight for life: Glen Cunningham with his partner Yasmin Malik, and their baby son Glen. Mr Cunningham wants to survive as long as he can for his family
A young father suffering from 10 brain tumours is making a last-ditch bid to raise funding for cancer treatment after his local primary care trust refused to pay for a drug that could prolong his life.
Glen Cunningham, 29, from South Shields in Tyneside suffers from a rare form of cancer called gliosarcoma, and believes that wonder-drug Avastin could give him precious extra time with his partner Yasmin Malik, 26, and two young children.
Mr Cunningham has a seven-year-old daughter, Lauren, and 10-month-old son – also named Glen.
Avastin is licensed by the Government and works by stopping tumours from developing new blood vessels.
week, South Tyneside Primary Care Trust (PCT) broke the news to Mr
Cunningham that it was not prepared to pay the 33,600 a year it would
cost for him to receive a course of twice-monthly injections.
Now he and his family are desperately trying to raise the funding for his treatment themselves.
Mr Cunningham, a plasterer, said: 'This is basically my last chance. I need to start taking the injections right away, I have no time to wait.
'But my survival now comes down to a few thousand pounds, that’s it, and I never thought it would come to this.
'The drug is not a cure, but it will hopefully prolong my life. If I could just try it for a few months to show it’s working – then, maybe, I could get the funding I need.'
The father of two was diagnosed with cancer in December 2006 after he suffered a seizure.
During 2007 he endured chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, and was delighted when he went into remission.
Three years later, in September 2010, doctors discovered the tumour had returned and Glen found himself facing further surgery.
When the cancer came back yet again at the start of 2011, Mr Cunningham went through gamma knife – a special type of brain radiation treatment.
Glen, 29, with his ten-month old son from South Shields. He needs to raise more than 33,000 for a year's drug treatment
Despite his determined battle against the disease, Mr Cunningham now has 10 tumours on his brain – two of which are inoperable.
The difficulties surrounding the drug Avastin relate in part to the fact that, while it can be legally prescribed in the UK, it has not been approved for use by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) – which gives advice on which drugs should be made available to the NHS.
NICE, which weighs up the relative costs and benefits of drugs, believes Avastin is too expensive based on the benefits it provides.
Ms Malik, Mr Cunningham's partner, said of the situation: 'We’re all devastated. I don’t want to have to tell little Glen in a few years time that his dad’s not here to play football with him because someone decided he wasn’t worth a few thousand pounds.
'I want his dad here with him and if Glen can benefit from injections, it could be reality.'
A spokesman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, on behalf of South Tyneside Primary Care Trust, said Mr Cunningham has the right to appeal against the PCT's decision.
From 2014, the Department of Health plan to bring in a new system called 'value-based pricing.'
Under the plans, groups of GPs will decided whether a drug should be funded or not rather than the medicines watchdog NICE. Ministers hope this will help to make new drugs affordable through direct price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies. NICE will continue to give advice on which drugs are effective.