Fred Baron update: Biogen caves in to human decency

October 16, 2008

Mesothelioma titan Fred Baron will receive the last chance drug he needs to fight back what is likely terminal multiple myeloma, despite Biogen’s initial reluctance to provide the drug for off label use even with FDA approval, immunity from suit, and the plea of senators, ex-presidents, and tort giants like Mark Lanier.

“Thanks to the persistence and hard work of so many friends, Fred has received Tysabri,” Baron’s wife, Lisa Blue, said in an e-mailed statement. “The Mayo Clinic working with the FDA found a legal basis for this use. We have every expectation of a positive result.” The whole story is here.


Radical pleurectomy/decortication saves patients bypassed by EPP

October 16, 2008

This article discusses a study that showed the effectiveness of open chest radical pleurectomy decortication  (PD) surgery compared to open chest palliative PD for patients who were not eligible for EPP.

Am I a candidate for surgery?

October 16, 2008

Here’s a discussion about prognostic factors for patients considering surgical treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma titan Fred Baron succumbing to multiple myeloma

October 16, 2008

Fred Baron, founding partner of Dallas’s legendary toxic torts firm Baron & Budd and asbestos/mesothelioma crusader, is dying of multiple myeloma at the Mayo Clinic. Effectively blocking a last ditch effort to get him treatment that might extend his life, big pharma is finally exacting its bloody revenge on a lawyer who led the charge against drug companies by refusing to provide an off label use of a drug that might help. Read the extraordinary story here.

Chemotherapy may not affect survival or quality of life for patients with advanced mesothelioma

May 22, 2008

Researchers from the UK and Australia involved in a multicenter randomized trial have concluded that chemotherapy for advanced pleural mesothelioma may not improve survival or quality of life. The details of this study appeared in the May 17, 2008 issue of The Lancet.1Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and lethal form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. There are about 2,500 new cases a year in the United States. Because the disease is often advanced at the time of diagnosis, average survival for those with pleural mesothelioma has been significantly less than one year. Recent studies have suggested that chemotherapy can improve quality of life and prolong survival compared with supportive care measures.

The current study compared active symptom control (ASC), with one of two chemotherapy regimens (mitomycin, vinblastine, and cisplatin [MVP] or vinorelbine alone) in 409 patients with advanced pleural mesothelioma. The following table summarizes the main findings of this trial.

ASC MVP Vinorelbine
No. of Patients
Response 0% 10% 16%
Stable Disease 0% 62% 59%
Deaths 97% 96% 95%
Median Survival 7.6 months 8.5 months 9.5 months
PFS 5.1 months 5.1 months 6.2 months

There were no differences in quality of life parameters between the three groups. These authors concluded that the addition of chemotherapy to supportive care did not affect survival or quality of life. However, there was a suggestion that vinorelbine could be more effective than supportive care or MVP chemotherapy.

Mesothelioma science wrap-up

May 9, 2008
1. Genetic susceptibility to malignant pleural mesothelioma and other asbestos-associated diseases
2. Diagnostic value of carcinoembryonic antigen in malignant pleural effusion
3. Worker produced health education material for the construction trades
4. Efficacy and safety of Pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for malignant pleural mesothelioma: a phase I/II study in Japanese patients
5. Individual versus standard quality of life assessment in a phase II clinical trial in mesothelioma patients: feasibility and responsiveness to clinical changes
6. Cytotoxic responses and potential respiratory health effects of carbon and carbonaceous nanoparticulates in the Paso del Norte airshed environment
7. Prediction of mesothelioma and lung cancer in a cohort of asbestos exposed workers

MN Governor inks cancer study

May 8, 2008

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved a $4.9 million dollar study of mesothelioma and taconite worker’s health Monday, after reaching a compromise with Range legislators. The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed at least 58 miners’ deaths due to mesothelioma.