Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Eamon Scanlon has called on the HSE to re-examine its decision not to include the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab in its reimbursement scheme.
Nivolumab has been approved by the HSE for treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma; however it is unwilling to reimburse patients who are using the medication.
Deputy Scanlon explained, “Nivolumab is proven as an effect treatment for cancer patients with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. However, because it is not covered by the drug reimbursement scheme, very few patients actually have access to it because of the cost.
“While the drug is expensive, it does not cost more than Sutent, which is another medicine which treats the same conditions, and which is available as part of the reimbursement programme. I am currently dealing with a number of cases where people who have been on other drugs need to switch to Nivolumab as the medication which they had been on is no longer working.
“I have written to the Health Minister to press the need for this medication to be included on the drug reimbursement scheme. It will vastly improve the lives of those who need it, and it is no more expensive than some of the other drugs which are currently included in the scheme for the same conditions.
“I am also extremely disappointed by the decision by the HSE not to approve a life-changing medicine for children suffering from muscular dystrophy for reimbursement under drugs schemes. Translarna is available in Northern Ireland and 22 other European countries. It keeps children active for longer and slows the progression of the disease.
“I would encourage the HSE to re-enter into discussions with the company to strike a deal and ensure that this important medication is made available for children who need it”.