Victory for Mesothelioma Drug Campaigner

Mesothelioma drug campaign

10.11.2006

Mesothelioma drug Campaigner wins victory
Ethel Hallam who suffers from cancer has won her battle for treatment with a pioneering form of chemotherapy.

Health officials, overturned their pervious decision because of 'some very specific and unusual circumstances,' and will now fund the drug, Alimta.

Her daughter, Louise Dowd, said: "I'm just utterly delighted. The reason Derbyshire County Primary Care Trust gave us for changing their minds was that mum had already been prepared for chemotherapy at Wythenshawe Hospital when they refused to pay for it."

The PCT's change of heart came just hours after hearing the family's appeal on Monday. Mrs Dowd said: "They called us as we were travelling back from Chesterfield. I was glad because time is of the essence now."

Mrs Hallam, 70, suffers from mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Her family paid for one cycle of chemotherapy at a private hospital while waiting for the appeal. But the total bill for private treatment with Alimta would have been over £16,000.

If she had lived ten minutes away in Stockport Mrs Hallam would have received the chemotherapy needed to extend and improve her quality of life straight away, because Greater Manchester PCTs do fund this treatment for asbestos victims.

Derbyshire County PCT said: "The PCT has upheld the appeal due to some very specific and unusual circumstances for this patient.

"The Appeals Panel also supported the original decision that Alimta is not the drug of choice for treatment of patients with mesothelioma, based on the best evidence available to date."

Health trusts are now awaiting National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on Alimta which will be binding on the NHS.