April 14, 2019

Patients without health insurance must not be denied access to lifesaving drugs

Irish Cancer Society’s response to VHI’s decision to fund some innovative cancer drugs

The Irish Cancer Society has said lifesaving medicines should be available to all who would benefit from them, not just those with private health insurance. The Society was responding to reports VHI has decided to fund certain innovative cancer drugs for its members. 

Chief Executive Averil Power said, “The Irish Cancer Society welcomes reports more patients will have access to innovative new cancer drugs because of VHI’s decision. However, it is incredibly unfair others will be denied potentially lifesaving medicines just because they don’t have private health insurance. Private patients can already skip the queue for cancer tests. Unless the Government acts now, the same will now be the case for some cancer drugs.

“These drugs are expensive and don’t work for everyone but can be of huge benefit to some patients. Where there is strong evidence an innovative drug will work for a particular person, their doctor should be able to give it to them, regardless of whether they are a public or private patient.The Government must address this as a matter of urgency. The pharmaceutical industry must also step up and ensure the State can buy such drugs at a reasonable price.”