Legislation to make new cancer drugs more readily available to patients in this country is being put forward by a Sligo senator.A Private Members Bill drafted by Senator Marc MacSharry, and to be introduced in the Seanad tomorrow night, Wednesday, proposes to change the way in which new treatments for cancer are provided.
The Fianna Fail senator said that the change in the law would effectively change the process of the provision of cancer drugs to patients to put the patient central, placing the onus on government to opt out of the provision of a European Medicines Agency approved drug for cancer patients rather than the current scenario where they must opt in.
Senator MacSharry said: “In the past a decision was taken based on cost per year of life saved but such criteria can miss the reality that a drugs impact on you or I might be very limited in terms of outcome and additional time though there may be or are certain instances when a cancer sufferer may be cured or get quite an extended period of remission and good health.
“One size does not fit all, some may be cured some may not. This bill provides for such a situation while still giving the state the ability to opt out if medically and economically more appropriate.
The patient will come first here.” Well known cancer specialist Professor John Crown, who is also a senator, has agreed to co-sponsor the Bill.
Senator MacSharry said the minister of the day must take a decision to refuse provision of a drug and can consult in his deliberations but it is he/or she who must decide.
“The state can still opt out of the provision of a drug if its benefits are not sufficent in terms of outcome but unlike with what happened with drugs in the past such as’Ippi’, among others, the onus will be on the state to provide rather than force people to resort to the Joe Duffy show and frantic lobbying, etc., to gain access to an approved drug available to others in other countries.”