Campaigner Vicky Phelan has called on the government to make the drug Pembrolizumab available to all women in Ireland with cervical cancer.
Appearing on Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ last night she said, “women want an option, a little bit of hope.”
The drug, otherwise known as Pembro, has been offered by the state to the 221 women who were affected by the CervicalCheck crisis. Phelan herself has said that the drug is giving her time and allowing her to live her life, despite being given a terminal diagnosis.
Phelan believes the drug should be given to any woman who has been diagnosed with cervical cancer and whose tumours are responding to treatment. The drug currently costs €8,500 for one dose every three weeks.
The campaigner said she feels guilty that she is receiving the drug when many other women in need are not. She also recognised that it wasn’t a cure for cervical cancer but it was buying her precious time with her loved ones that she didn’t think she would have the chance to have. “I didn’t think I’d see this end of the year, to be honest; that’s how bad things were back in January,” Phelan said.
Also appearing on the program was Áine Morgan from Loughrea Co. Galway, who was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 2015. She has completed both chemotherapy and radiotherapy and said that the drug is now her only option.
The 43-year-old felt it was unfair that the drug is “given to one and not the other” and that it should be placed in clinical trials.
The drug has been approved in cervical cancer treatment by the FDA in the US but it does not have a license here in Europe.