There have been a number of positive developments since our last update on immunotherapy research for treating mesothelioma, and the potential impact on asbestos related legacy claims.
More treatments for mesothelioma have become available in the UK via the National Health Service – this is encouraging news for victims who should now find it easier and quicker to access such treatment assuming it is suitable for them and recommended by the Oncologist.
For liability carriers, this should also have a positive impact on private treatment claims propensity and cost.
Immunotherapy, as a treatment for Mesothelioma first began appearing as part of damages claims in 2015/6 and has continued since. Immunotherapy treatments are intended to assist the body’s own immune system in destroying cancerous cells by making such cells more “visible” and easier to attack.
A claimant’s right to seek privately funded treatment over that which might be provided by the NHS is uncontroversial but sometimes complex and not without risk if access to civil compensation remains in doubt at the point the financial outlay must be incurred.
Providing the specific treatment options are available through the NHS, it is sometimes quicker and more easily combined with other more traditional treatments the NHS delivers.
The National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) has recently recommended the use of two immunotherapy drugs, Nivolumab and Ipilimumab, in England and Wales as a combination first line treatment option.
NICE had previously approved the use of Nivolumab on a temporary basis but:
- only as a monotherapy and
- as a second line treatment option, often only after more established treatments such as chemotherapy had been attempted.
In Scotland, the Scottish Medicines Consortium acted slightly more quickly and approved the use of this combination treatment in February 2022.
Implications for insurers
Any carrier with an exposure to historic UK liability covers attracting asbestos related Mesothelioma claims will have experience of victims seeking funding for the cost of various emerging treatment options designed to either:
- reduce symptoms &/or
- delay the progression of this ultimately fatal condition.
The scenario of having more immunotherapy treatment options available is likely to be repeated as advances in research produce new treatment options, their efficacy is evaluated, and NICE considers whether they might offer better outcomes for patients than that currently in place.
However, insurers should note that all victims of Mesothelioma have the right to seek privately funded treatment even if NHS treatment is comparable/ better and even faster.
As we previously noted, various funding mechanisms are in place to help mitigate claimants’ legal expenses whilst ensuring those who wish to can access treatment privately. Insurers should be aware of these to help claimants’ experience and access to the most effective treatment be as timely, efficient and cost-effective as possible.
Please get in touch with the experts at Pro for more information.