Thompsons Solicitors, has welcomed news that drug manufacturer Eli Lilly is appealing against the withdrawal from use in the NHS of life extending cancer medicine, Alimta.

Asbestos litigation experts, Thompsons, is now urging the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) to rethink its decision on Alimta so hundreds of dying North East workers can receive the treatment in the future.

The call comes after NICE withdrew Alimta from being used in the NHS. The drug is not a cure for devastating illness mesothelioma but it is said to reduce symptoms and maintain quality of life.

Past reports have said the drug could help 60 cancer sufferers a year in the North East region alone.

Manufacturer to appeal for approval of cancer medicine

But trials for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) concluded last month the drug would not be recommended for use except as part of ongoing or new trials in England or Wales.

Now Eli Lilly is set to launch an appeal on the decision. The drug company has said evidence provided by the company was not taken into account.

It also said NICE’s summaries of clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness were not representative of the evidence available and the recommendations are not a suitable basis for guidance for the NHS.

The company says combining Alimta with cisplatin it could increase survival of mesothelioma sufferers by 23% to 40% compared to cisplatin alone.

National head of asbestos litigation at Thompsons, Ian McFall said it was vital that NICE reconsidered its decision.

He said: “People with mesothelioma have already paid the price. For some dying cancer victims Alimta is their only chance to improve their quality of life during what is a devastating time for the victim and the family.

“We will support asbestos sufferers’ fight to make sure this drug remains available on the NHS for mesothelioma patients across the UK and we would urge NICE to take a long hard look at the case for approving this vital drug for use on the NHS.”

The BBC also covered this story.  To read their release visit "Mesothelioma drug blocked for NHS".