Immunotherapy Treatment for Mesothelioma Victims
As a lawyer specialising in mesothelioma claims I am often asked by clients whether there are any treatments for this terrible condition. In the past the answer has always been that there are trials being undertaken and there are drugs which may prolong life but nothing that would make a significant difference to life expectancy.
In the last few years however immunotherapy has been mentioned as possible treatment and in particular a drug called Keytruda (also known as Pembrolizumab) which is manufactured by Merck.
Immunotherapy works by boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. The immune system has difficulty identifying cancer cells and this drug helps by making the cancer cells more visible to the ‘T’ cells that the body uses to hunt and destroy the cancer cells.
The drug was initially made to target melanoma but is now being trailed as a treatment to limit the growth of mesothelioma tumours and increase life expectancy in victims.
Trials are ongoing but initial results seem to be positive.
Sadly the drug is not licensed for mesothelioma by the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE). The drug is licensed for melanoma and since December 2016 it has been recommended for routine NHS use in non small cell lung cancer patients in certain cases.
The private cost of the drug for a mesothelioma victims would be around £70,000 and would involve two cycles of drugs being administered by a drip for 30 minutes, repeated every three weeks for as long as it is seen to be effective or until the side effects are too severe.
Many mesothelioma sufferers who are pursuing claims against former employers for exposing them to asbestos are now including the costs of this treatment within their claim. This is being resisted by the solicitors representing the insurance industry but it is being allowed.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma I would strongly urge you to contact me on 0800 294 3065 as soon as possible to discuss your options.