THE TAOISEACH has said Ireland will approve the skin cancer ‘wonder drug’ Ipilimumab for use in Ireland, as soon as an arrangement can be reached in order to allow its costs to be reimbursable.
The drug, which is thought to be twice as effective as other drugs in treating melanoma, has been cleared by the European Medicines Agency but has not yet been made available to patients in Ireland.
This morning in the Dáil, Enda Kenny said the minister for health James Reilly was currently in negotiations with the makers of the drug in order to secure a deal where the drug could be available in Ireland with the costs to reimbursable.
Kenny said a course of treatment under the drug would cost in the region of €85,000, a cost the State was keen to address.
His comments came after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin inquired why the drug was not yet available in Ireland, but was available to patients in the UK and the Netherlands.
“We are good at facilitating breakthrough drugs in cardiology and oncology,” Martin said. “It’s been one of our pluses, and one of our strengths.”
“Patients have been denied access to this treatment for too long.”
Kenny responded by insisting there had been no “deliberate hold-up” in the approval of the drug, and that he was “aware of the interest, particularly from those who have had people suffer as a consequence of this”.
“We want to be clearly understood that this country will continue to be at the forefront in the use of breakthrough drugs,” he said.