A 43-YEAR-OLD cystic fibrosis sufferer has been left angry after being denied vital bacteria-fighting drugs because they are too expensive.
Heather Cockersoll, from Braunton, was diagnosed with the disease when she was just three years old, and has been treated at Caen Medical Centre for the past 13 years.
She said: “Up until now, the treatment I have received has been pretty good, with only the odd issue here and there.
“But now they are refusing to give me a repeat prescription for the Zithromax capsules, which prevent my illness from getting any worse.
“I only need one 250mg capsule three times a week, so around 12 tablets a month.”
The centre has offered to change Heather’s medication to a cheaper, more generic version of the drug, which would come in tablet form.
“The problem is that CF sufferers struggle to absorb things into their system,” explained Heather.
“A capsule is much more effective for me than a tablet would be, I have tried the tablets before and had really bad side effects because of this.
“I am very lucky to have made it this far and I am reluctant to change my medication now.”
An NHS England spokesman said there had been no national change in policy regarding the medication, and that capsules were still being prescribed elsewhere.
But the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) said it had recommended the change.
Richard Croker, head of medicines optimisation at NEW Devon CCG, said: “GP practices are able to prescribe the medicines that they feel are clinically appropriate for their patients.
“We work with our member practices to promote the use of the most clinically and cost-effective treatments.
“The CCG has been recommending that GPs consider the use of azithromycin tablets instead of capsules.
“By doing so, there is a saving of up to £650 per year per patient. The UK medicines regulator have found no difference in the absorption between capsules and tablets.
“The CCG recommends that if patients have concerns about any of their medicines that have been changed, they should talk to their GP or local pharmacist.”