A CANCER patient denied a new drug by the NHS has reacted angrily after an official from the coalition Government told him steps are being taken to ensure better access to life-extending treatment.

Graeme Johnstone, 54, who has advanced kidney cancer, wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron to complain after his local primary care trust turned down his consultant’s application for a new cancer drug, Everolimus.

Mr Johnstone, from Middleton St George, near Darlington, has said that the present system for getting new drugs to patients who need them is totally inadequate and needed to be reformed.

Despite having a good track record in prolonging life and being widely available in Europe, NHS County Durham and Darlington turned down his request last month after guidance from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

Today, Nice will confirm it will not be recommending Everolimus on the NHS because it costs more than £20,000 a year per patient and does not represent good value for money in terms of the benefits it provided.

In the reply to Mr Johnstone, a Department of Health spokesman said the Government “has commited to reform the way the NHS pays for NHS medicines in the UK so that any cost-effective treatment can be made available through the NHS with drug providers paid according to the value of new treatments”.

The move to a “new valuebased approach” will take time, according to the letter, but the Department expects to be ready to implement this approach by the end of 2013.

In the meantime, the department will be taking steps to ensure patients have better access to drugs that can prolong or improve their lives.

Mr Johnstone, said: “A target of three years to change such a discredited system is totally unacceptable.

“Three months would be more realistic.”

Rose Woodward, of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, said patients would find this refusal to back Everolimus further proof that Nice is totally out of touch with NHS patients and the general public.

She said “I find it incomprehensible that Nice are fully aware that the mood of the Government and the general public is that terminally ill cancer patients should not be denied effective cancer treatment.”