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Paying for Non-NHS funded treatment through civil compensation claims – hope for victims of mesothelioma

Important progress has recently been made in the field of medical research into the mechanism of development of mesothelioma and how it can be effectively be treated.

Advancing medical treatments for people suffering from Mesothelioma

Whereas in the past, the prognosis was generally poor for patients receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the landscape is changing due to increased understanding of how the body reacts to the invasion of asbestos fibres and the availability of new drugs and therapies.

Some of these have been approved by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for treatment of other cancers (Keytruda and lung cancer, for example), but are now being trialled for treatment of mesothelioma. Other treatments are still being developed, but there is a distinct air of optimism and excitement at the prospect that one day soon, mesothelioma may become a chronic, treatable condition, rather than being inevitably fatal.

How making a compensation claim for asbestos exposure can help

I have recently settled 2 cases for sufferers of mesothelioma who brought civil compensation claims against their former employers who caused their exposure to airborne asbestos dust which led to their developing mesothelioma later in life.

In the first case, my client, Andrew Nicholson, fought a long battle against 3 former employers who eventually settled his claim out of court. Andrew received the standard chemotherapy treatment which held his disease in abeyance for some time. However, when the disease progressed, he desperately wanted to try immunotherapy in the form of Pembrolizumab, which his treating oncologist believed he would likely benefit from.

As the case was denied by the Defendants and despite my varied attempts to obtain a court judgment on liability, an early interim payment and settlement for Andrew, our efforts were thwarted by the Defendants.

Fortunately, when things were looking very bleak and Andrew’s condition was deteriorating, he was able to access the drug by participating in the PROMISE-meso trial at Maidstone hospital in Kent.

The results were almost immediate with Andrew reporting feeling much better after just two weeks of receiving his first treatment. He continues to receive the drug via the trial, free of charge. His life expectancy has been extended and his quality of life has almost returned to its prior state, whereby he tells me that he sometimes forgets that he has mesothelioma. Of course, he is aware this is not necessarily a complete cure, but for the moment, he looks and feels very well.

Making the future more secure by securing future treatment costs

In settling his case, we were able to obtain the Defendants’ insurers’ agreement that should Andrew not continue to receive the treatment he needs in future free of charge via the trial or on the NHS, they will pay for it as long as it is recommended by his treating doctors. This includes future treatments which may not yet be known. This is a huge boon to patients like Andrew who know that the usually prohibitive costs of treatment for his condition, will be met by the employers’ liability insurers of the companies who caused his illness.

In another client’s case, I was able to obtain an early judgment against the employer and to secure the funding of Pembrolizumab for my client during the case. Again, the settlement included agreement by the Defendant to continue to fund privately, any treatment recommended for my client and which is not NHS-funded.

This relatively new development in claims for those with mesothelioma gives more patients hope for the future. It also underlines the need for those affected to instruct specialist solicitors who have experience in dealing with these claims, to ensure the best possible outcome that can be achieved through litigation is achieved. Having this specialist knowledge and awareness of recent developments both legally and in this case medically can make all the difference.