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Mesothelioma

Battle Stepped Up for Cancer Drug Funds

Battle Stepped Up for Cancer Drug Funds.

Byline: Audrey Forbes Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), October 17, 2006

Campaigners for a life-extending cancer drug are to lobby the Government for funding which has been pulled.

The North-east Asbestos Support and Awareness Group (NASAG) was today supporting a lobby of Parliament to demand funding for chemotherapy drug Alimta.

The drug is used to treat asbestos-related mesothelioma - but will no longer be funded on the NHS from this month.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has found that Alimta is effective for the treatment of mesothelioma but that it is too expensive.

Norton dad-of-four Jeff Hurrel, 58, fought to get Alimta made available on Teesside until his recent death. Health trusts on Teesside agreed to funding in December but the ruling will prevent new patients receiving the life-extending drug.

Terminally ill Bernard Hoyland, 64, of Marske, was involved in the campaign and welcomed the lobby.

"Of course I'm in favour of it. The drug gives people vital time with their families as it extends their lives," he said. "The companies they worked for have made millions but now they have been let down because of funding."

Bob Stephenson, of NASAG, said: "The cost of working with asbestos has been the loss of the lives of thousands of mesothelioma sufferers. A decision not to approve Alimta on the grounds of cost is simply unacceptable, considering the price that has been paid by sufferers and their families."

He said for years mesothelioma sufferers were sent home to die with no prospect of treatment.

"Alimta offered them hope. Now it has been snatched away again."

The lobby has been called by the Forum of Asbestos Victims Sup port Groups, of which NASAG is a founding member and is supported by the All Party Asbestos Sub-Committee. The Forum wants all those concerned about the provision of treatment for mesothelioma to arrange to meet their MPs in the House of Commons.

Information will be available for MPs and their constituents about why mesothelioma patients should have the option of treatment with Alimta.