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.

Guidance for the drug has finally been issued after a two-year campaign backed by founder of the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, Chris Knighton and asbestos compensation claims specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

Chris said: “We have been campaigning hard over the last two years and it is a wonderful day that this decision has been made. People will now receive the treatment they justly deserve.

“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.”

Head of Asbestos Policy

Head of asbestos policy at Thompsons Solicitors Ian McFall said: “This is fantastic news 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. It is an important breakthrough.”

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.

Earlier this year NICE ruled against the use of Alimta across the NHS. But following an appeal to NICE agreed to carry out a review of the evidence.

Until today Alimta was only available on the NHS in some parts of the country including the North East, Scotland, Liverpool and London.

Patients living elsewhere in the UK were faced with having to pay up to £8,000 per cycle to obtain the treatment.