"Lack of product to treat bladder cancer"

About: Medway Maritime Hospital / Urology

(as the patient),

I have had surgery for bladder cancer and the team then decided that I should be treated with BCG, but unfortunately this product is not available due to the only supplier for GB is a company in Canada which has decided to close this factory for refurbishment, so the product is not available for cancer patient in this country.

I have had a secondary treatment until this product is available. BCG is available from Germany but is not licensed in this country, so patients halfway through treatment have to stop, new patients cannot be treated and no one can say when this treatment will be available.

I have brought this matter to the attention of the local M P and the media but none are really concerned.

Has anyone else had the same problems?

I might add the team at Medway Maritime Hospital have been excellent and cannot do more and I must congratulate all of them.

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Response from Medway NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

I believe the CCG are aware.

As a trust we are only allowed to recommend medication that has been licensed so as not to put the patient at any risk.

I am sorry that this is an unsatisfactory situation however I hope a conclusion is reached soon.


The Patient Experience Team

Telephone 01634 825004

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Update posted by jakthedog (the patient)

I understand your position on this matter and I no accusation against Medway Foundation Trust, I do however accuse the NHS for not recognising this situation particularly as they have experienced this in previous years and therefore should have put in place contingency plans to overcome this situation then it would not have occurred this year.

I have passed this complaint on to my local MP who in turn has lobbied the secretary of state for health and the chief exec for the NHS.

This is a situation that should not and need not happen.

Response from Hollie Snelson, Comms and Engagement Programme Manager, NHS Medway CCG

Thank you for your further response. As mentioned previously, I would like to assure you that Medway CCG are aware of this issue. As you rightly highlight, there is an international shortage of the licensed product. Discussions between Medway CCG and Medway Foundation Trust have highlighted potential health and safety risks to patients and healthcare professionals if an unlicensed product is used. Medway CCG is assured that significant steps are being taken by the Trust to ensure that each patient affected is assessed by a multi-disciplinary team in order to determine if alternative, licensed treatments can be used. The hospital pharmacy is also making significant progress in reviewing options for the supply of the unlicensed BCG vaccine and we would hope they will have further news within the next week.

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Response from Medway NHS Foundation Trust We have made a change

Feedback has now been received from the Drug and Therapeutics committee which agreed that the unlicensed drug can now be made available for use, and that some patients will start treatment as soon as possible. The committee had to be assured of the quality of the product so as not to put patients at risk.

Once the licensed drug is available then we will of course re-start to use that product.

Thank you

The Patient Experience Team

01634 825004

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