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BBC, December 19, 2006

Asbestos cancer drug block review

NHS drugs advisors are to reconsider their decision to block a drug for people with asbestos-related cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had said Alimta (pemetrexed disodium) should not be used in England and Wales.

The drug is used to treat mesothelioma, a type of cancer which most often affects the lining of the lungs and is mainly linked to asbestos exposure.

The original ruling was appealed by manufacturers Eli Lilly.

NICE has now announced the case will be reviewed by its appraisal committee.

Checks

NICE official Dr Gillian Leng said: "The appeal mechanism is one of a series of checks and balances built into our appraisal process.

"It ensures that we issue the right guidance to the NHS, based on the correct interpretation of the evidence. Today's decision shows that these checks and balances work effectively."

Joanne Rule, chief executive of the charity Cancerbackup, said: "We are very pleased that NICE will be looking at this important treatment again, following the recent appeal.

"Resulting from exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma takes a long time to develop and when the cancer is diagnosed, patients often have a very poor prognosis.

"As a cancer with very few treatment options, we hope Nice will approve this treatment which helps to control symptoms such as pain and can give patients vital extra months."

 
 

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