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New orphan drug may help mesothelioma patients

The Food and Drug Administration has granted orphan drug status to Amatuximab, an new cancer drug that is suspected to help people suffering from malignant forms of mesothelioma. The Orphan Drug Act allows the FDA to approve certain drugs that are used to treat fewer than 200,000 people (i.e. people with rare diseases). Mesothelioma is listed in that category, and the disease claims about 2,500 people each year.

Part of the challenge with treating mesothelioma is that symptoms usually do not develop until the cancer is in its later (and life threatening) stages. At this point, a number of treatments are not effective, and cancer patients have very few options. As such, orphan drug status will allow Amatuximab to be available to more mesothelioma patients.

Researchers indicate that Amatuximab helps to target and suppress the expression mesothelin, which ostensibly allows tumors to take hold in cells and to spread to other parts of the body. The drug may actually bind the mesothelin on cancer cells and trigger an immune response against effected cells. Researchers also believe that this treatment may offer better chances at survival than chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.

While this new drug offers mesothelioma patients some hope of a cure, employers who exposed workers to asbestos and other dangerous materials that cause mesothelioma can still be held liable for the injuries and illnesses that arise out such working conditions. Moreover, employers are increasingly resistant to meeting their obligations on older mesothelioma claims.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source:, New Orphan Drug Approved for Mesothelioma, November 18, 2012

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