FOUR new hi-tech drugs to treat different forms of cancer have been given the green light, benefiting over 230 patients at a cost of around €3.5m.
Dr Susan Reilly, director of the National Cancer Control Programme, said the drugs were for the treatment of bone cancer in children and younger adults, skin cancer, advanced prostate cancer and renal cancer.
"This is a very significant development for our patients," she said. "It is very important that we provide our patients with access to these effective new drugs."
The new drugs are Cabazitaxel, Vemurafenib, Axitinib and Mifamurtide.
Cabazitaxel treats prostate cancer. It can be used to treat men with advanced disease, which has worsened.
A spokeswoman said the aim of the treatment for hormone-resistant prostate cancer was to "alleviate symptoms, prolong life and slow the progression of the disease".
Around 22 men will get the drug, with an initial cost of €800,000 in the first year, rising to €1m by 2017.
Vemurafenib will be used in treating melanoma skin cancer that cannot be removed by surgery or has spread to other parts of the body.
It improves survival from a median of 9.9 months with an old drug to 13.2 months, and around 30 patients will get it, rising to 50 by 2015, costing around €1.5m.
Axitinib is used in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma, a kidney cancer. It has been shown to increase survival by two months.
Mifamurtide has been approved for use in osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, which affects mainly affects children and young adults. Fewer than 10 patients will get it, at a cost of more than €800,000 annually.
Drug companies secured an agreement with the Department of Health last year that new medicines, which have been cleared as a potential benefit and cost effective, can be made available to patients here.