Bradley Lowery's mum 'overjoyed' by NHS approval for cancer drug

Bradley & Gemma Lowery Credit: PA

By Kris Jepson

A year after his death, Bradley Lowery's mum Gemma has told ITV News Tyne Tees she is 'overjoyed' the cancer targeted immunotherapy drug Dinutuximab beta has been recommended for use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

The decision means that children like two-year-old Cara Armstrong will now be treated for Neuroblastoma - a rare childhood cancer - using the drug, which costs around £150,000 per course of treatment.

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Gemma Lowery said "I'm overjoyed. This treatment was definitely needed and it's fantastic that NICE and the pharmaceutical company have worked together, negotiated and managed to come up with a deal that suits both of them.

"Hope is a massive word and I love the word hope, because where you've got hope, you've got fight and you've got life. That's what it gives. It gives our families hope that their children are going to beat this awful disease."

Cara Armstrong is celebrating her second birthday on Friday and also the end of a month long stay at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle, where she has been treated with chemotherapy.

Her mum, Isobel, has been trying to raise enough funds to secure her daughter this vital drug, which has the potential, in conjunction with other treatments, of saving her life.

When Isobel was told the news on Thursday she was delighted.

I just felt so relieved. It just felt like a huge weight off our shoulders. It was quite emotional really, thinking that this is going to improve her chances and make it a lot more feasible that she survives this awful disease. We knew it was going to be hundreds of thousands we were going to have to find and we'd started doing some fundraising for cancer research, so we had a bit of a team in place, but I was feeling really daunted by it. It's a lot of money to have to find.

Isobel Armstrong
Cara Armstrong Credit: ITV News

There are around 100 children each year who are diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.

The decision by NICE, which independently assesses cost effectiveness of drugs for the NHS, was welcomed by Dr Quentin Campbell Hewson, who is the Consultant Paediatric Oncologist at the RVI who is treating Cara.

He told ITV News the decision by NICE is welcome as it makes survival of cancer more realistic.

It is a component of a treatment which will result in cure for about 50 per cent of children. It's not a treatment on it's own, because we use it in combination with all the other treatments that we've demonstrated help and work against Neuroblastoma, but without it we will be less successful. With it, we can be more successful.

Dr Quentin Campbell Hewson

Neuroblastoma UK, a charity which supports families with children who have the cancer, said this move takes the pressure off families, who already have the stress of caring and supporting their sick children.

The alternative would be them having to seek treatment abroad and having to raise money for that, because it wouldn't be funded in any other way. In respect to the drug itself, immunotherapy is a way forward, and a promising way forward, in terms of drugs and in terms of opportunities.

Alastair Whitington, Neuroblastoma UK