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Abbott urged to subsidise asbestos disease drug
Abbott has been reminded of his pre-election promises.
April 14, 2005 - Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott is under pressure to expand the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to include a drug that helps alleviate suffering in people with mesothelioma.
The president of the Asbestos Diseases Society in Perth, Robert Vojakovic, says the drug Alimta has been shown to prolong, and give a better quality of life to people dying from mesothelioma.
He says he has written to Mr Abbott reminding him of a promise he made in the lead up to the last federal election.
"Last year when he was on the election trail he made unbelievable election promises, pledging some $20 million to asbestos diseases and cancer treatments and post-election he totally forgot about it," he said.
"Suddenly he has an enormous attack of amnesia you see, unable to recall anything."
Mr Vojakovic says the cost of the drug is prohibitive for most people.
"Alimta shrinks the cancer in some people, but in the majority it gives them longevity of life and also gives them better quality of life," he said.
"A full treatment, which is about six months or a little bit longer, would cost about $20,000. On PBS it would cost, for the full treatment, I guess about $1,000."
Mr Vojakovic says he wants Mr Abbott to look seriously at the issue.
"We've got about 3,000 people or more dying every year from asbestos disease and asbestos diseases aren't going to go away," he said.
"They're going to escalate, most likely even triple in the near future you see, it might go on for another 20 years," he said.
Peter Nolan says he was on the brink of death when he took part in a trial of Alinta.
"I'd made my funeral arrangements and had a friend, the priest who's to do my funeral service and I've sort of disappointed them really, haven't I?" he said.
"Now nothing worries me because I've been given this extra time and I'm at peace with the world, that's what Alinta's done for me."
Mr Nolan says the drug is too expensive for most sufferers.
Minister's hands tied on Alimta drug subsidy decision
April 14, 2005 - A spokeswoman for federal Health Minister Tony Abbott says the Government has no power to influence the outcomes of decisions made by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) advisory committee.
Groups representing asbestos-related cancer sufferers have criticised the committee's decision not to subsidise an expensive new drug called Alimta.
Sufferers say it is the only effective treatment for mesothelioma as it modestly increases a patient's life expectancy.
They have been urging Mr Abbott to intervene, but a spokeswoman says the committee's decision is final and there is no scope for the Minister to intervene.
The Asbestos Diseases Society of Victoria's Dr Stephen Vaughan says the Alimta drug adds three months to the average nine month life expectancy for mesothelioma sufferers.
He says the rejection of the drug Alimta is not consistent with other PBS advisory committee decisions.
"The puzzling thing about the decision is they've approved many other drugs that are less effective than Alimta, that have shorter survival gains or less effect on quality of life," Dr Vaughan said.
Asbestos-containing parts used in 1.64 mil. Japanese vehicles
(Japan Economic Newswire)TOKYO, Dec. 27_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING DETAILS)
Suzuki Motor Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and seven other Japanese manufacturers used asbestos-containing components to build a total of 1.64 million cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles between 1996 and November this year, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Tuesday.
But there is no risk of the carcinogenic material getting airborne from those vehicles and thereby harming humans, given asbestos was kneaded into resin or sealed for use in gaskets, packing and resin materials of the motor vehicles that also included buses, fire engines and tractors, it said.
Suzuki Motor had 1.01 million vehicles using such parts, the largest number among the nine, while Toyota had 27,000 vehicles. None of the nine companies plans to recall the parts in question, it said.
The seven other companies are Isuzu Motors Ltd., Nissan Motor Co., Nissan Diesel Motor Ltd., Hino Motors Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. and Yamaha Motor Co., according to the association.
The association announced in October 1996 all of its member companies removed the asbestos from any parts used in their products.
But it was revealed in October that Nissan Motor had used asbestos-containing parts from 1995 and 1999. The association then told its member companies to conduct further checks.
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral fiber, is known to cause a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma, lung cancer and other health problems when inhaled.