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Mesothelioma

Cancer Drug Battle Boost

Cancer Drug Battle Boost.

Byline: By Nick Whitten Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), October 18, 2006

An asbestos widow came away hopeful from a meeting with MPs for more access to cancer drug Alimta.

Christine Knighton travelled to the House of Commons yesterday.

Christine, who founded the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund in memory of her late husband, was joined for the visit by mesothelioma sufferer Arthur Tiffin of Walbottle, Newcastle.

They are fighting for Alimta to continue to be readily available to asbestosis sufferers after it was denied approval for use on the NHS by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) earlier this year.

And following the meeting yesterday, lobby organiser Mick Clapham has promised to take a group of more than 40 MPs, including several from the North East, to meet Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Prime Minister Tony Blair on the issue of Alimta.

The Barnsley West and Penstone Labour backbencher told the Chronicle after the meeting: "This is the only drug available to treat mesothelioma and it must become available on the NHS.

"I hope we can persuade them of the case for NICE to licence this drug for the NHS."

Mrs Knighton said: "If we can take the commitment and passion from this meeting to them, I think we will get the drug licences. It was an excellent meeting where the case was powerfully made."

Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland who attended the lobby along with Newcastle's Nick Brown and Doug Henderson and Houghton and Washington East's Fraser Kemp said: "It is the only drug for mesothelioma and I fully support the campaign."

Paula Tiffin, Arthur's wife, said: "We have been through this before with the support of the Chronicle and the public of the North East when we won the right for this drug to be prescribed in the region. I hope Patricia Hewitt and Tony Blair listen to the MPs when they meet them."

Dr Hillary Calvert from the North East Cancer Network and Newcastle General Hospital said: "This is the only drug that treats mesothelioma and I think the benefits outweigh the cost which is disputed."

NICE said the Tyneside-developed drug was not cost-effective.

Chris Knighton's husband Mick died of mesothelioma in 2001, aged 60, caused by exposure to asbestos while in the Royal Navy.