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Mesothelioma

Death of Cancer Drug Battler

Byline: Michelle Ruane Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), November 4, 2006

A campaigner who joined calls for funding for a life-extending cancer drug has lost his own personal battle.

Bernard Hoyland, of Marske, supported the campaign calling for cancer drug Alimta to be available for cancer patients on Teesside.

Mr Hoyland, 64, who suffered from mesothelioma, died at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, on November 1.

Alimta is used to treat asbestos-related mesothelioma, but since last month the drug has not been funded by the NHS for new patients.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence found Alimta to be effective for the treatment of mesothelioma, but too expensive.

Speaking to the Gazette last month Mr Hoyland branded the decision to refuse funding on the grounds of cost as "simply unacceptable, considering the price that has been paid by sufferers and their families".

Mr Hoyland leaves a son and daughter Paul and Kendra and five grandchildren.

Paul, 36, said: "He was a devoted father and grandfather who will be dearly missed. He was very popular.

"The Clarendon in Marske was his local and just about everyone know him."

He added: "He was a mechanical fitter and also worked at ICI Wilton. He came from North Ormesby and was brought up on Teesside.

"He was learning Spanish and hoping to retire to Spain."

Commenting on his dad's involvement in the Alimta campaign, Paul said: "Ultimately it could have given him more time with this grandchildren.

"He ended up having to travel to central London after finding he could get the chemotherapy down there. He was a victim of the postcode lottery."

Paul added: "Just three weeks ago he was still fit enough to get himself about and was considering a holiday with friends. It took over him so quickly. He went for a routine visit to his oncologist at hospital and was kept in.

"He was very philosophical. He knew he was dying, but he never let it get the better of him.

"He never let it get him so that he couldn't play with his grandchildren."

A service will be held at St Bede's Chapel, Teesside Crematorium at 1pm on Wednesday.

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Agony of drug 'lottery'

In summer 2005, knowing he had at most a year to live, Bernard Hoyland became embroiled in a battle with the NHS.

The doting grandad had been diagnosed with mesothelioma - a terminal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Then, aged 63, he learned of the drug Alimta, which could extend his life. The Gazette revealed how the industrial worker, from Blenheim Avenue, Marske, was told Langbaurgh Primary Care Trust would not fund treatment, claiming it was too expensive.

Yet he knew if he lived in Scotland or some other parts of England he would get the drug on the NHS.

At the time the grandfather-of-five said: "This drug will give me two to three months extension to my life. But I have been told there is no money for me."

The situation angered many as Teesside is among the worst areas in the country for asbestos-related conditions, accounting for 10pc of all cases of mesothelioma deaths.

Throughout his career as a mechanical fitter from 1958 to 1980, Mr Hoyland said he regularly breathed in asbestos dust mainly from disturbed lagging insulation.

Last November he launched a High Court battle for up to pounds 200,000 compensation from two of his former employers. He said then: "The money's nothing, really - I just want it to prove they are guilty."

Then he discovered he could be treated with the drug on the NHS in London, and began travelling to St Bartholomew's Hospital, every three weeks. He said: "Every day I wake up is a bonus. "

In December he won his fight to have the drug prescribed on the NHS on Teesside. But just six months later health chiefs pulled the plug.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ruled that the drug - the only one licensed to treat mesothelioma - was too costly, and from last month it has not been prescribed on the NHS.

Just weeks before his death, as the fight began once more, Mr Hoyland said: "It is absolutely terrible."