Like the solicitors at our partner firms, everyone at ARAG recognises the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest legal developments in those practice areas in which our after-the-event policies are used. But such expertise often extends beyond the realms of purely legal knowledge.
Just one example is the progress over recent years in using immunotherapy treatments for mesothelioma, which offer unprecedented and realistic hope for asbestos victims, but at a considerable price.
Trying to include the cost of such treatments in a settlement requires knowledge, not just of the current legal position, but also the latest clinical trials and decisions with regard to NHS funding of such drugs.
Even today, when medical miracles abound, the prognosis for mesothelioma patients is bleak and the standard treatments brutal. A combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy may extend life for some terminally ill patients, but the reprieve is likely to be measured in months, not years.
Relatively new “immunotherapy” drugs, such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab, have been approved for NHS use in treating some cancers under certain circumstances, but trials are still ongoing for mesothelioma patients, so many would have to pay for them personally, to benefit.
The cost, even for a short course of such drugs, currently runs to tens of thousands of pounds which, if they do their job, could turn into an annual bill well into six figures.
Such sums, especially given the uncertainty surrounding both the treatment’s success and for how long it might be needed, inevitably make things very difficult when trying to reach a settlement in this sort of claim.
Nonetheless, I’m very pleased to say that we have had some recent successes with partner firms working on this sort of industrial disease case. Through their diligence and expertise, clients who have been dealt a cruel hand now have the hope afforded by the latest in medical advances.
Such successes demonstrate the importance of all the homework that we and our solicitor firms do to stay in touch with the latest developments in relevant practice areas. They also reflect ARAG’s mission, for more than 80 years, to provide equal access to justice for all citizens, regardless of their means.
In these cases, access to justice might also be the difference between life and death.