Dublin's Mater Hospital has said the requirement of some pharmaceutical companies that women of childbearing age use contraceptives during trials of potential drug treatments, goes against its ethos.

The hospital said that individuals and couples have the right to decide themselves about how they avoid pregnancy.

The Mater was responding to the controversy over the decision of its ethics committee to defer approval of a clinical trial of a potential lung cancer drug, because of a requirement that those who participate in the trial use contraception.

Trials of the drug are underway at Tallaght and Beaumont Hospitals.

The hospital said it was committed to meeting all of its legal requirements regarding clinical trials while at the same time upholding the principles and ethos of the hospital's mission.

St Vincent's University Hospital cancer specialist Dr John Crown said hospital ethics committees should not object to the use of contraception, given the potentially fatal effect of experimental cancer treatment on an unborn child.