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New Drug May Help Mesothelioma Victims

Recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new medication in the treatment of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and melanoma. The drug, called Keytruda and manufactured by Merck, has shown positive results in the treatment of patients with mesothelioma. This is important, as the treatment options for mesothelioma are currently severely limited.


An individual may develop mesothelioma after prolonged exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, this was common for much of the twentieth century, as up until the 1980s asbestos was used extensively in numerous products. Asbestos becomes dangerous when microscopic fibers are disturbed and released into the air. When breathed in, these fibers may remain in the lungs for many years before serious issues become apparent. Construction workers, carpenters, and shipyard workers are just some of the individuals who were placed at risk due to their occupations.

New Drug May Help Mesothelioma Victims

Keytruda attacks and kills cancer cells by targeting a protein called Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1). The drug will treat patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer in which the disease has progressed despite the use of alternative treatments. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, in 2015, it is estimated that there will be 1,658,370 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the United States. Additionally, an estimated 589,430 people will die due to the disease.

Dr. Hossein Borghaei, a lung cancer and mesothelioma specialist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, stated, "[f]or an early-stage investigation into this terrible disease, it's very encouraging to have the kind of results that the investigators are reporting." According to one study made up of 25 mesothelioma patients who had unsuccessfully undergone chemotherapy and who had tumors with the PD-L1 protein, 76% showed improvement after around 5 ½ months. Furthermore, 48% of the individuals in the study had their tumors stop growing and 28% had their tumors shrink.

Individuals may find that the side effects of Keytruda are more tolerable than chemotherapy. These side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • An increased feeling of fatigue;
  • Decrease in appetite;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Impaired breathing;
  • Development of a cough; or
  • Severe immune system-related issues.

According to Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Keytruda will allow physicians to specifically target patients who they believe are the most likely to benefit. Dr. Pazdur explained the progress being made against cancer, stating, "[o]ur growing understanding of underlying molecular pathways and how our immune system interacts with cancer is leading to important advances in medicine."

Compassionate Legal Help

The development of Keytruda signals a bit of good news for victims of mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with this disease, it may be possible for you to recover against those responsible for your exposure to asbestos. Recovery can be critically important for covering the cost associated with medical treatment. For more information, contact an attorney experienced in asbestos-related matters. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel to where you live to provide help.

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