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ACT Government Changes Asbestos Compensation Laws

The Australian Capital Territory government has amended asbestos compensation laws to allow a victim's relatives to collect compensation if that victim dies before the claim is finalized.

Before the amendment, claims would not be paid if a victim died before their case was finalized. Families had to pursue a separate legal case if they wanted to continue their relative's claim which only added to their pain.

The new ruling will allow families to collect payment directly or transfer it to the estate of the deceased.

Part of the motivation behind the change was a case last year where a court hearing took place at the home of a dying patient in an effort to expedite the claims process.

Australian Prime Minister Rejects Alimta Subsidy Request

A push for government subsidized treatments for asbestos disease sufferers has been rejected by Australia's prime minister.

Prime Minister John Howard has declined to support a push to subsidize Alimta to treat mesothelioma patients. Howard responded that patients should request assistance from their state governments to help cover treatment costs which generally run about $16,500 (USD) per 18-week cycle.

Patient advocates say that subsidies would cost $5-7 million per year which they argue is trivial when compared to total government spending. Two states, New South Wales and Western Australia already have subsidy plans in place.

Though Alimta has been proven to extend patient's lives, it is not considered a cure for the disease. Requests to list Alimta on Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme have all been rejected on the grounds of cost and possible toxicity.

Eli Lilly which has submitted an application to have Alimta re-examined in November, claims new data proves that toxicity is "mild and easily manageable" by most patients.

About 600 Australians are diagnosed annually with mesothelioma which is caused by exposure to asbestos.