Thompsons Solicitors today welcomed a break through on Alimta, the drug which brings new hope to the victims of mesothelioma, the asbestos related cancer that afflicts former shipyard and other industrial workers.
NHS watchdog NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, is recommending Alimta for patients in England and Wales who are able to carry out day-to-day tasks, but whose cancer is advanced and where surgery is in appropriate.
Although the guidance only extends to England and Wales, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland the corresponding authority in Scotland normally adopt the same policy in cases like this.
Previous NICE had ruled out use of the drug, sparking a major campaign by victims, their families, trade unions, and pressure groups.
In Scotland, the STUC, Clydebank Asbestos Group, and Clydeside Action on Asbestos, backed by Redress lobbied top politicians and petitioned the Scottish Parliament.
Frank Maguire, Senior Partner with Thompsons said: “We are delighted at the prospect of Alimta becoming available to mesothelioma sufferers.
“It is the only drug that can extend the life of those with this terrible condition and ease their suffering, so it was totally appalling that they were being denied its benefits.
“The campaigners deserve every credit for their determination to end this injustice.”
Mr Maguire added: “We were considering a legal challenge if NICE did not make Alimta available to sufferers.
“With their lives prolonged, many sufferers will live to see justice in their cases, improve their own quality of life assisted by their compensation.
“They will also know that before they die their family will have some financial security, thanks to another campaign which we were proud to be associated with, and which led to the Scottish Parliament passing new laws to pay compensation to sufferers, without affecting their family's rights to compensation after their deaths.”