Martin calls for intervention to speed up release of melanoma drug

The Taoiseach has been called on to ensure that Irish patients can get access to a new breakthrough drug to treat skin cancer.

The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the drug ipilimumab should be introduced into the public health system.

Enda Kenny said the drug is due for release, but discussions had to take place about the cost of the medicine before that could happen.

The melanoma drug is available in the UK and Holland.

Deputy Martin said the Taoiseach should intervene to ensure Irish patients had access to the medicine.

"Patients have been denied access to this treatment for too long," he said.

"One of the good strengths of this country actually was (that) we were very good at facilitating breakthrough drugs, particularly in oncology and indeed in cardiology."

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