Posts Tagged ‘Law Lords’

Meso Foundation commends U.K. efforts on mesothelioma, urges U.S. to follow suit

17 Mar 2010 by under Legal, News, Organizations, Research/Treatment
straw Meso Foundation commends U.K. efforts on mesothelioma, urges U.S. to follow suit

UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw

Earlier this month, Chris Hahn, executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) expressed his support for the recent announcement from the UK that it plans to not only endorse compensation for mesothelioma victims, but to promote research and treatment. In a news release, Hahn praised the for its recognition “that society’s obligation and moral responsibility to remedy the tragic legacy of decades of asbestos use requires funding research to develop effective medical treatments.” Then, he asked the all-important question: “Will the United States follow?”

Hahn’s praise and plea followed remarks by the U.K.’s Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, who has been outspoken about the government’s role in caring for workers harmed by asbestos on the job.  Straw issued a statement Feb. 25, 2010, in response to an ongoing debate over the government’s decision on the question of compensation for pleural plaques.

Although pleural plaques, which are small areas of fibrosis in the pleura of the lung caused by asbestos exposure, indicate that a person has been exposed to asbestos, they generally do not cause any significant change in lung function. As a result, the Law Lords on Oct. 17, 2007 determined that people who have pleural plaques, but no other asbestos-caused illness, are not eligible for any compensation for medical treatment or other financial claims. The debate over pleural plaques sparked a national debate about asbestos disease.

Although subsequent research did not provide enough evidence to overturn the Law Lords’ ruling, it has provided significant information about asbestos disease, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. The government also is establishing a number of policies to make it easier for those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or serious asbestos disease to receive compensation more quickly. Additionally, the research has encouraged the UK government to take a stronger stand on mesothelioma research and treatment.

According to Straw’s statement, “The fact that the UK has one of the highest rates of death from mesothelioma in the world is a legacy of our industrial heritage and the part that asbestos played in it. Just as the UK was a global leader in the asbestos industry, we must now become a global leader in research into asbestos-related disease.”

The government of the UK is calling for the creation of a , which will be a “collaborative network of funded researchers whose core purpose would be to advance medical research into the prevention, cure and alleviation of asbestos-related disease – primarily mesothelioma,” according to Straw. He said the insurance industry has pledged £3 million toward this research effort.

Benefits of such a concentrated and cooperative research and treatment program would not only benefit mesothelioma patients, but also would significantly reduce the costs of litigation, death and disability benefits, and health care costs, Hahn points out.

“This is exactly what the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has been urging in the United States the past ten years,” Hahn says. “Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are a fundamental problem of social justice. And a just solution to that problem requires medical research to develop effective treatments to end the suffering and save lives. It is encouraging to see that the U.K. is getting it; we hope the U.S. will catch up soon.”

Read Hahn’s statement.

For more information, visit the Meso Foundation online at www.curemeso.org.


Startling statistic revealed during UK pleural plaque debate

3 Dec 2009 by under Legal, News, People

There is an ongoing debate in the United Kingdom about whether the country’s Labour department is responsible for compensating workers suffering from pleural plaques. In 2007, the Law Lords ruled that pleural plaques did not qualify for worker’s compensation. Pleural plaques are areas of fibrosis, or scar tissue caused by exposure to . They are usually found on the inside of the diaphragm.

A champion for the rights of workers who have developed pleural plaques as a result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace is Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn. In a meeting at the House of Commons on Nov. 27, he argued the issue of pleural plaques is “immensely important” to workers and pensioners, and insisted it is the duty of members of both sides of the House to overturn the “disgraceful and unjust decision by the Law Lords to bar this terrible illness from classification as a designated illness for compensation purposes,” according to a report in The Chronicle.

Hepburn also told the Commons that pleural plaques sufferers are 1,000 times more likely to develop a more serious form of asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that affects the lining of the chest cavity and lungs (pleural) or the lining of the stomach (peritoneal). It may also rarely affect the lining of the heart (pericardial). There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

During the heated debate, The Daily Mirror reports that statistics were revealed that show mesothelioma rates in the have nearly doubled in 10 years. According to the news source, hospitals treated 7,349 cases of mesothelioma in the past year, compared to 3,773 cases during the timeframe of 1998-99. The Mirror calls mesothelioma an “asbestos timebomb,” citing the disease’s long latency period.

The Mirror quotes Hepburn as saying, “We’re seeing the legacy of workers exposed to asbestos in the 1960s.”