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Minister Simon Harris was questioned by Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Deputy Billy Kelleher about the drug.
“Pembrolizumab is currently available for reimbursement for the treatment of melanoma through the National Cancer Control Programme’s Oncology Hospital Drugs Management System,” said Minister Harris.
“The HSE has also received an application for reimbursement of pembrolizumab for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics recently completed a rapid review of pembrolizumab… and has recommended a full health technology assessment of the drug.”
Separately, the Department of Health has insisted that the National Cancer Strategy should be finalised and brought before Government by the end of this year. However the Department would not provide the Medical Independent (MI) with a more exact date for publication.
“A new National Cancer Strategy for the period 2016 to 2025 is nearing finalisation and it is envisaged that it will be brought to Government before the end of the year,” a Department spokesperson told MI.
“The areas of prevention; early diagnosis; further improvements in treatment; rare cancers; survivorship; and high-quality, patient-centred care have all been examined in the development of this strategy.”