Union supports call for reinstatement of anti-asbestos drug

People with asbestos-related disease and their families are lobbying Parliament calling for funding for a drug to treat asbestos-related cancer.

The protestors, including GMB union members, are calling for primary care trusts (PCTs) to fund the chemotherapy agent Alimta (pemetrexed disodium) for the treatment of mesothelioma, a terminal asbestos-related illness.

The protest follows the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) decision not to approve the use of Alimta in June. The institute said the life-extending drug was not cost effective.

But Nice is due to review its decision after an appeal hearing on 27 October.

Ian McFall, head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons Solicitors  which has led the Alimta campaign, said: “This is a chance for every MP in the UK to put their weight behind this campaign. During this lobby they will be able to see first hand how mesothelioma has changed the lives of many hard working people and they will learn how Alimta can help some of these people to have a better quality of life.”

John McClean, GMB national health and safety officer, said: “GMB fully supports this lobby. Mesothelioma sufferers have paid the price with their health and their lives because of the negligence of employers. If the only licensed treatment for mesothelioma is withdrawn, innocent victims will be sent away without hope.”

More than 50 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion for extended access to the drug.

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