Children's cancer expert backs Lord Saatchi Cancer Bill

14 Apr 2014 16:10:15.907

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A pioneering children’s cancer expert at The University of Nottingham is adding his weight to Lord Maurice Saatchi’s campaign to give doctors more freedom to try new ways to treat rare and terminal cancers. 

Professor David Walker, a researcher and paediatric oncologist who co-founded the UK’s leading Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, has joined the Saatchi campaign to create new legislation to support medical innovation.

Lord Saatchi was prompted by the death of his wife Josephine Hart from ovarian cancer to introduce a Private Member’s Bill which sets out a legal framework to encourage responsible innovation in cancer treatment.

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The Department of Health has launched an online public consultation which is inviting views on whether a Bill should be taken forward. The Medical Innovation Bill, if made law, would offer a new pathway in which oncologists would be allowed to explore innovative therapies, whilst building evidence of their applicability and effectiveness to acquire the evidence necessary to launch the next generation of clinical trials.

Writing in today’s Telegraph newspaper, Professor Walker outlines why he has decided to join the Saatchi campaign. He has also written a blog in support of the new Bill which is published on the Saatchi Cancer Campaign website.

Professor Walker said: “When cancer patients are in a situation with ‘nowhere else to go’ and if there is no trial for which they are eligible, they need to be able to try treatments that might work, based upon the best judgment of their medical advisors.  

“We need to allow them to try such new drugs that may be applicable and collect that experience to inform the next generation of trials.

“The Saatchi Bill would do this, by protecting individual doctors who try new, licensed but untrialled treatments, on patients who have consented to such treatment outside of a formal trial.

“This cannot be — and isn’t — a license for the maverick doctor acting alone. The doctor would also need to share the decision with peers as part of the multi-disciplinary teams that already exist in modern health systems.

“I strongly believe the Saatchi Bill would meet the needs of pharma and academia — but most importantly the patients and their families who need to be given additional choice — and experience the associated hope.

“If organised with light touch this could offer valuable information to researchers whilst sustaining hope for families that no stone is being left unturned.”

Lord Saatchi said: “Professor Walker is pre-eminent in his field and his recognition of the importance of this Bill for patients is an immeasurable boost to the campaign.”

To watch Lord Saatchi explain his Bill click here.

To respond to the consultation on the Saatchi Bill website:

Sign-up for the latest developments:

Follow on Twitter: @SaatchiBill and tweet using #SaatchiBill


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Liz Scarff, Saatchi Cancer Campaign


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