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Mesothelioma drug withdrawn for widespread use

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has prevented the NHS from administering Alimta, a drug used to prolong the lives of people suffering from mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer which affects the lining of the lungs and is almost always connected with exposure to asbestos. Alimta has been designed to reduce symptoms and ease suffering for patients.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has made a decision that Alimta should only be recommended for use in new and ongoing clinical trails and not administered by the NHS to those suffering from mesothelioma in the UK.

NICE offer reasoning for their decision by insisting that there is no evidence that this drug is any better than existing cheaper treatments.

Professor Nick Thatcher, specialist lung consultant at the Christie Hospital NHS Trust in Manchester, comments: “This decision, if upheld, will remove a very useful treatment option for patients with this resistant cancer. It is contrary to the scientific evidence and is purely based on the value NICE places on a person’s life.”

It is estimated that about 65,000 people will develop mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, and with Alimta costing around £8,000 for each patient, funds may be a major influencing factor for the withdrawal of the drug for widespread use.


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