A CANCER patient has been denied NHS funding for a new cancer drug which could add years to his life.

It means that health specialists will be unable to prescribe Everolimus, which costs about £40,000 a year and can extend lives by up to two years.

Doctors treating Graeme Johnstone, 54, from Middleton St George, near Darlington applied to the local primary care trust for funding for the drug. But NHS County Durham and Darlington rejected the request.

Fully licensed, and widely available in France and Canada, Everolimus, also known as Affinitor, has a proven track record. But so far it is not being made available through the NHS after the body which vets new drugs – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) – decided not to recommend it.

Controversially, Nice uses a formula which calculates whether life-extending drugs represent good value for money.

Mr Johnstone, a chartered surveyor who has battled advanced kidney cancer for years, believes he has been kept alive for three years because he got on a clinical trial for another new cancer drug called Recentin.

His consultant, Professor Bob Hawkins, from the worldrenowned Christie cancer hospital in Manchester, wanted to be able to prescribe Everolimus in case Recentin stops working.

Last night, Mr Johnstone said: “They have told me that they don’t think my case is exceptional. What exactly do they call exceptional? Who isn’t exceptional?”

Mr Johnstone has written back to the primary care trust asking how he can appeal and whether a kidney cancer specialist was involved in the decision.

“Not only did I wait several weeks for the decision, the letter arrived by second-class post. This might be fine for appointments, but is shameful for a decision concerning life-extending treatment,” he said.

In a separate case, Fred Binch, 78, from Scarborough, was also denied the drug by NHS North Yorkshire and York.

Mr Binch, who was told that Everolimus would be his last chance, has accused his local primary care trust of “playing God”.

The James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer has said it was “criminal” that patients in England are being denied access to the new drug.

The charity said it was aware of one patient in Gloucestershire who had successfully applied for NHS funding for Everolimus.

Both trusts said they had declined funding because of the Nice guidance and the lack of exceptionality in both cases.