Asbestos cancer treatment has undergone great change over the years. Great strides in the way that asbestos cancers are investigated, confirmed and then treated have been made.
Advances in therapy have meant better tailoring and management of dose of both chemo and radiotherapy. This means that the effects of mesothelioma are better managed for many patients in the UK and abroad.
Noteworthy developments in immunotherapy are gathering force. They may give a future pathway to treat or manage those diagnosed with mesothelioma.
This issue of new treatments has raised a difficult issue for solicitors when dealing with clients who are diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Paying for Asbestos cancer Treatment
The courts, insurers and victims alike prefer certainty. Therefore agreeing settlement without making proper provision for the availability of immunotherapy is unwise.
At the moment the leading and most expensive immunotherapy drug is called Pembrolizumab also known as Keytruda. This can cost £120, 000 per annum.
Defendant insurers are not keen to leave themselves open to having to provide such care. However if a proposed treatment is reasonable it is no defence for an insurer to say that it can be got more cheaply or that it is available on the NHS. If the court is satisfied it is needed then the defendant will have to pick up the bill.
A different way of settling cases to preserve the rights for victims who may seek treatment is now being proposed.
In essence where a case can be settled for all other losses the the case should be agreed. That then forms part of an order.
To add to that order is a schedule which includes trigger points such as:-
- For a trust to be set up with it’s sole purpose to receive and then pay to the costs of the immunotherapy provision with additional costs
- That the trigger for payments is the victim’s treating oncologist recommending this therapy
- That oncologists recommendations are broadly accepted.
- Where appropriate the insurer may ask it’s expert to comment on it
It is still early days for these types of order.
It is likely that insurers will baulk at the prospect of such risk. The alternative would be to settle the case on the other heads of loss and then keep applying to the court for the payments on account for treatment.This will only serve to increase legal costs and could affect if a patient gets treatment.
Corries Solicitor Howard Bonnett says
“Many mesothelioma victims are shocked when they are diagnosed. Thinking about other treatments may not be at the front of their mind. Their medical team, lawyers and others should be thinking about what treatment is available. The chance to go on drug trials or get treatments varies throughout the UK. However for most early involvement and decisions are vital.
The Mesothelioma UK website gives details of different trials and can be seen here http://www.mesothelioma.uk.com/information-and-support/clinical-trials/
Mesothelioma victims need help to make sure they secure what treatment they can. The practicalities of and benefits need to be carefully weighed up. Courts and defendants need to be convinced that it is a good idea.
Progress in mesothelioma treatment is uncertain. However the pace of progress and the number of trials is increasing. Most of all those of us working with mesothelioma victims need to keep up to date. If we can find therapy and doctors will support it then it is right that the defendant picks up the bill”
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