Tuesday 17 September 2019

Drug that has helped Vicky will be approved for all cervical cancer sufferers

Vicky Phelan credits the drug with reducing her tumours. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Vicky Phelan credits the drug with reducing her tumours. Picture: Fergal Phillips
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The drug that CervicalCheck victim Vicky Phelan credits with reducing her tumours is to be made more widely available, the Irish Independent understands.

Health Minister Simon Harris is on the verge of a major announcement regarding Pembrolizumab. The HSE currently funds the drug for women caught up in the CervicalCheck controversy, known as the 221 group.

However, there have been calls for it to be supplied to all other cervical cancer patients.

The treatment, more commonly known as Pembro, can cost €8,000 a dose which is administered every three weeks, but only gives results in a limited number of cases. It can take up to eight months before doctors know if a patient is responding.

Government sources said Mr Harris had now asked the Medicines Management Programme (MMP) to expand access to Pembro to "all clinically suitable women with cervical cancer".

The move will form "part of an overall national effort to effectively eradicate the disease..."

"This, coupled with the move to HPV testing next year and the HPV vaccine for boys next year, is part of a joined-up effort to realise this vision," the source said. It is understood Mr Harris will meet the head of the MMP, Professor Michael Barry, later this week.

"We expect to hear progress very shortly," the source said.

Ms Phelan wrote online that making Pembro more accessible would be a "most wonderful gift this Christmas".

Irish Independent

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