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Drug treatment approved for mesothelioma sufferers

Alimta, a drug that used to be refused to UK citizens suffering from mesothelioma, has just been made available to them after a decision by The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Before now, only those living in Scotland and the Northwest and Northeast of England could access the treatment.

Although the drug is not considered a cure for mesothelioma, results have shown that those suffering from the disease have experienced longer life expectancy lengths and their symptoms have lessened. Alimta is also the only treatment available.

The decision by NICE ended an approval process that has lasted almost three years. During this time, hundreds of patients have been diagnosed with and have died from mesothelioma, without having access to the drug treatment. Kim Daniells, the founder of The York Asbestos Support Group, has been campaigning to make the drug available to all UK citizens.

The significance of the NICE decision is that primary care trusts are now obligated to provide this treatment to their patients. They have 90 days to put this new system in place. Daniells hopes that with the guidance of NICE, access to the desperately-needed treatment will be available much sooner.

Alimta is also being recommended for patients in the advanced stages suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma and also whose cancer could not be surgically removed safely.

Many ex-employees of York Carriageworks have died from mesothelioma after having been exposed to asbestos dust fibers between the 1950s and 1980s. The NICE decision could benefit some of those still living.


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