The Clinical Director of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics has said the experimental drug Pembrolizumab (Pembro) will be made available to all women suffering from cervical cancer under a "managed access programme".

Professor Michael Barry explained that not everyone responds to the drug, but all patients will now have an opportunity to be treated with it.

He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that after six to eight months patients would be assessed to see if they were responding.

Professor Barry said that studies have found up to 85% of patients will not respond to it.

He said the decision to extend access to the drug was made at a ministerial level and he would prefer to see drugs coming through the normal process.

Professor Barry added that managed access programmes should be introduced for other high-cost drugs.

The drug, which costs €140,000 per patient per year, is currently only available to the women who were caught up in the CervicalCheck controversy.

Campaigner Vicky Phelan credits the drug with prolonging her life.

Ms Phelan, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after a false negative cervical smear test carried out as part of CervicalCheck, has said her tumours have shrunk significantly due to the drug.

In April, the mother of two young children was awarded €2.5m in a settlement against the US lab that carried out the test over a false negative result in 2011.

She was only informed of the misread test last year, and her case came to light in an audit after she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.

Since her false negative result, her cancer had progressed to the point where she was given just months to live.

Ms Phelan has said while her diagnosis is terminal, Pembro is buying her time and she can live with the disease.

A support group has been set up for the 221 women and families affected by the CervicalCheck crisis.

The support group was founded by campaigners Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh, who also had an incorrect CervicalCheck reading, and Stephen Teap, whose wife died in 2017 following two incorrect smear test results.