People across the UK affected by asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma have welcomed a decision by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to make chemotherapy drug Alimta available on the NHS.

Despite two appeals against its use, the NICE has given all trusts the go-ahead to prescribe the drug.

The news comes following a two-year campaign backed by founder of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, Chris Knighton and asbestos compensation claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

Alimta offers precious extra time for mesothelioma sufferers

Chris said: “We really are delighted at this decision. It’s been one of the worst examples of postcode lottery prescribing and we’ve lobbied parliament on a number of occasions because there is nothing else for people with this disease.

“But it’s been a long journey to get to this point and people with mesothelioma don’t have time on their side.”

“This news is a relief for the hundreds of mesothelioma sufferers in the UK. Alimta may not be a cure but it offers precious extra time for patients and their families. It also provides relief from their symptoms allowing them to enjoy a better quality of life during their last months.”

No cure for Mesothelioma

Head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors Ian McFall said: “This is an important breakthrough for mesothelioma sufferers and their families. Alimta is the only specific licensed chemotherapy treatment for this devastating illness. This decision will now allow doctors to provide the treatment on the NHS.”

There is no cure for mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos. More than 2,000 people every year are diagnosed with the disease, which often leaves sufferers with a life expectancy of just months.

Specialists estimate around 700 people a year could benefit from Alimta.

Alimta is said to extend the lives of some sufferers and has proven to improve quality of life.