News & Media

Ireland a laggard in approving cancer medicines for public patients

15 April 2019

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health

Labour Party Health spokesperson Alan Kelly TD, has said that Ireland continues to be a laggard when it comes to providing oncology medicines to patients on public waiting lists.

This comes as private health insurers have told oncologists that certain oncology medicines will be available to private patients in private hospitals.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The fact that oncologists across the country have received notice from private health insurers that they will be funding to oncology drugs to private patients in private hospitals shows that the levels of inequity that exist in our health service.

“We have got to a stage now where those who can afford to can access potentially life altering drugs while those on the public list are still waiting for the same drugs to be approved.

“We already know that cancer patients in Ireland are far less likely to receive new cancer drugs and treatment compared to other European countries due to the way medicines are funded here in Ireland.

“Currently, there is a 623 day wait from when new oncology medicines are approved by the European Medicines Agency and when they come onto the Irish market. Compared to a 124 day wait to our colleagues in the United Kingdom, Ireland is seriously lagging behind in the provision of treatment.

“Not only are we lagging behind when it comes to the access of treatment, we are seriously falling behind when it comes to treatment innovation.

“It is not good enough that Ireland is a laggard when it comes to the introduction of innovative cancer medicines for all patients. Irish patients on the public list should not be one of the last to receive often life-saving treatments.”