The cost of Immunotherapy to Treat Mesothelioma
By Kathy Cooke. 26th January 2018
Immunotherapy enhances the immune system to treat diseases and to recognize and target cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is a powerful developing therapy with the potential to impact all cancer types including Mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer, changing the way cancer is treated and cured.
Targeted therapies like this differ from standard treatments, such as chemotherapy, in that they don’t damage healthy cells.
Immunotherapy is designed to only attack mesothelioma cells, which then results in fewer side effects for the patient.
Cancer Immunotherapy works in two ways:
It boosts your immune system to help eliminate cancer cells
It enhances the immune response by providing your body with additional components
It comes in two primary forms: active and passive
Stimulate the body’s own immune system to attack and kill cancer cells. Types include:
- Cellular Therapy
- Adjuvant Therapy
- Cancer Vaccines
Introduce synthetic immune proteins into the body to fight cancer. Types include:
- Monoclonal Antibodies
- Tumour Cell Modulation
- Tumour Infiltrating Lymphocytes
Mesothelioma immunotherapy drugs are still considered an emerging treatment, used mostly in clinical trials. A famous case is Mavis Nye who had had immunotherapy in 2009 as part of a clinical trial. She was given only months to live before the trial but is now free from Mesothelioma.
The results of the trials are generally very positive with around 20% of mesothelioma suffers experiencing a shrinkage of
tumours and 60% finding that the treatment stablises the cancer.
Currently Mesothelioma immunotherapy is not available as a treatment from the NHS because it is very expensive. The
first cycle of immunotherapy costs around £35,000 and a full course of treatment costs in excess of £250,000. It is usually offered privately as a second line treatment after chemo. This means that there is likely to be a shortfall from any compensation awarded as the result of a successful claim up to £200,000.
Periodical Payments for Mesothelioma
However that may change in the near future. Recently a claim was settled on the basis that if immunotherapy is
recommended by the consultants and doctors, the defendants and their insurers will be asked to fund it. This is known as a periodical payments agreement. Our solicitors have a court hearing in the Spring of 2018 for what we hope will be one of the first periodical payments orders for mesothelioma. This should ensure that mesothelioma claimants will minimise risk of being under or over compensated, but also that the defendants and their insurers do not pay for treatment that claimants do not actually receive.