Lack of government has hurt cancer drugs market, claims John Crown

He is appealing to the Health Minister Simon Harris to act

Breast cancer, Ireland, report, John Crown, cancer drugs, Simon Harris, Royal College of Surgeons

Professor John Crown launching a bill to regulate the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes at Leinster House in 2015 | Image: RollingNews.ie

A consultant oncologist claims a delay in getting access to new cancer drugs has been partly due to the lack of a government for several months.

Professor John Crown is a former Senator and consultant oncologist at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin.

"A decision, I think, was made at a high level not to embark on any kind of spending initiatives by acting ministers," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

He has appealed to the new Health Minister Simon Harris to allow more access to cancer drugs for patients.

Mr Crown says says one of the fallouts of the attempt to try and reform cancer care in Ireland has meant it is much more difficult to get access to new drugs.

"I believe we're now one of the countries that has rather more limited (access) - we're not the worst, but we're not as good as we were", Prof Crown added.

It comes as a new report from the Royal College of Surgeons examines women living with breast cancer. It says some 30% of women who are diagnosed will go on to develop advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

"This is a report...to look at, thankfully, the minority of patients with breast cancer whose disease sadly is not cured by early diagnosis and by appropriate early treatment", Prof Crown said.

"It's the approximately one-third, maybe 35% of patients, who actually develop secondary breast cancer".

"And sadly in the great majority of cases this is now an incurable disease...however, it is a treatable disease".

"I do believe we're curing some people, it's a small minority".

"The result of this is that there are an increasing number of women in Ireland living with secondary breast cancer, they're living under the shadow of this incurable diagnosis".

He says that while treatments are "better than what they used to be", they can still take a toll due to side effects.

"I think in the last few years we have seen further improvements - there are so many new drugs of various types that work at secondary breast cancer".