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Asbestos disease sufferers have welcomed today’s commitment by the NSW Workers Compensation Dust Diseases Authority to consider funding treatment of immunotherapy drug Keytruda for mesothelioma patients.

Executive General Manger Anita Anderson made the announcement at the National Asbestos Awareness Day Memorial Event in Sydney today.

Ms Anderson said mesothelioma patients who have undergone unsuccessful first-line chemotherapy and also meet other treatment requirements including support from their treating oncologist would be able to access funding for Keytruda through the Dust Diseases Authority.

Additionally, the mesothelioma sufferer must have been employed in New South Wales and exposed to asbestos during the course of that employment.

Slater and Gordon Asbestos Lawyer Joanne Wade said today’s announcement will make a huge difference for NSW workers with mesothelioma whose treatment costs were seemingly out of reach.

“Funding of Keytruda by the NSW Dust Diseases Authority will be hugely beneficial for mesothelioma sufferers who’ve tried first-line chemotherapy and have no other options,” Ms Wade said.

“Currently the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme only covers Keytruda for the treatment of melanoma

“That means melanoma patients are able to access Keytruda for less than $10, but because it’s not listed on the PBS for other illnesses, the cost skyrockets to more than $10,000 for mesothelioma patients.

“These costs were simply unfeasible for many asbestos disease sufferers, but today’s announcement is encouraging for NSW workers and hopefully a step towards national PBS recognition for Keytruda."

“Funding through the NSW Dust Diseases Authority will also enable medical data and results to be collated and analysed to see if the same treatment could have success for other patients.”

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