Insurers urged to fund research into asbestos cancer (Source - BBC News)

8th May 2014

Dr John Moore-Gillon of the British Lung Foundation says this would aid research - and cut future insurance payouts.

Symptoms of mesothelioma take decades to develop after exposure to asbestos fibres, but it can then kill quickly.

An insurance industry spokesman said discussions were set to take place shortly with the BLF on the issue.
Payouts

Mesothelioma is most prevalent among those who worked in industries with heavy exposure to asbestos up to the 1980s, including construction, shipbuilding, engineering and power generation.

About 2,000 people are diagnosed each year, and the numbers are set to increase over the next 30 years, with an estimated death toll of between 56,000 and 63,000, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Mesothelioma Bill, passed by parliament last month, will enable many thousands of people with mesothelioma, or their families, to apply for payouts from a £380m pot funded by the insurance industry over the next decade.

But the BLF says that, as more cases emerge, the final cost could be up to £11bn.

And it argues the real need is for research to alleviate the suffering of patients.
'Transform' research

Dr Moore-Gillon wrote: "If, each year, insurers invested in mesothelioma research just a tiny fraction of the amount they will end up paying out in compensation - for example, just 0.05% of that £11bn - it would absolutely transform mesothelioma research."

Labour is backing the proposal.

Kate Green MP, shadow work and pensions minister, said it was "shameful" that research into mesothelioma was not better funded.

She added: "That the insurance industry should help fund this research is widely accepted - it's what researchers want, it's what patients and their families want, and even insurers are supportive.

"A Labour government would take every possible step to ensure the sustainable funding that's needed from the industry is secured."

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: "The insurance industry is committed to helping people with mesothelioma and their families receive compensation as quickly as possible.

"This is why we worked with the government on a scheme, funded by insurers, that will now ensure that mesothelioma claimants who have been unable to trace an employer or relevant insurer to claim against will now be able to claim compensation."

He added: "A number of insurers have contributed £3m to the British Lung Foundation which facilitated the establishment of a mesothelioma tissue bank and the ABI will soon be meeting with the BLF to discuss the issue of mesothelioma research further."