During discussions on the Access to Cancer Treatment 2012 Bill debate in the Seanad, Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch stated that there are “no issues” with the current availability of cancer drugs in Ireland.
The Access to Cancer Treatment Bill 2012 proposed by Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry and Independent Senator John Crown would guarantee the provision and availability of all European Medicines Agency Approved (EMA) Cancer drugs unless the Government specifically opt out on grounds to be decided by the Minister for Health, alone.
Reading a scripted speech on behalf of her colleague, Dr. James Reilly, Minister Lynch stated that “cancer treatments approved by the EMA did not take into account the wider range of factors and constraints that influence national priority”.
MacSharry stated that he was shocked that the Ministers believe that the EMA are incapable of approving medicines in the best interest of patients. They are the European Licensing Authority.
“The attitude adopted by the Government was dismissive and ignorant in its treatment of families all over the country. They have dismissed all hope that new lifesaving treatments, approved by the EMA, could be quickly availed of in Ireland,” he told the Leitrim Observer.
“It was alleged by Government during the debate that the Director of the National Cancer Control Programme proofed and approved the script, which is very concerning when considering the contempt with which the speech treated genuine efforts to provide for patients, not least vulnerable cancer suffers themselves. If this is in fact the case, the capabilities of this person to continue in their role must be questioned.
“The current situation is unacceptable and I would have thought that this Government, in particular with a medical professional as Minister, would have the foresight to accept this legislation with amendments is necessary, and put the patient first, instead of playing politics with such a critical issue. The days of having a one-size-fits-all policy in relation to what treatments would be available to cancer patients here based on out-dated criteria must come to an end. It is only right that every cancer patient in Ireland has the prospect of availing of cutting edge treatments. Simply put, it is morally and politically the right thing to do. The patient must come first. ”