NICE to reconsider Alimta ruling

In collaboration with the Press Association

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has said it is to reconsider its decision that a drug for asbestos-related lung cancer should not be available on the NHS.

Alimta is used to treat mesothelioma, a type of cancer mainly caused by exposure to asbestos. It is currently available in Scotland where it has been approved by national regulators.

NICE said it will reconsider the decision following an appeal by the drug's manufacturer, Eli Lilly. Cancer Research UK welcomed the announcement.

"Alimta is the only licensed therapy for the treatment of unresectable malignant pleural mesothelioma in the UK," said Professor John Toy of Cancer Research UK.

"The treatment has been shown to improve survival in randomised trials and is used around the world.

"The majority of mesothelioma cases arose as a result of workplace negligence and, as such, we believe that patients should be entitled to the best care available."

He added that due to restrictions on the use of asbestos, the number of people with mesothelomia is expected to decline sharply from 2015 and an alternative treatment is unlikely to be developed between now and then.