Thursday 22 March 2018

Harris in fresh bid for CF drug price cuts

Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister for Health Simon Harris. Photo: Tom Burke
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Cystic fibrosis sufferers have been given new hope of access to miracle drug Orkambi after a move by Health Minister Simon Harris to form an international collective bid to secure it at an affordable price.

Mr Harris has written to his counterparts in England, Scotland, Canada and Australia asking "other health ministers to collaborate to try and make progress on accessing Orkambi at a cost-effective price for cystic fibrosis patients in each of their countries".

Around 500 Irish cystic fibrosis patients are desperate to try the blockbuster drug but the price quoted by pharmaceutical firm Vertex has been deemed too high.

The minister said health services in Ireland, England, Scotland, Canada and Australia had all been considering access to Orkambi for people with the condition and had been engaging with Vertex.

"No decision has been taken to reimburse the treatment in any of these countries to date and the Department has yet to receive the formal decision of the HSE directorate in relation to Orkambi," Mr Harris said.

"Our country has a great track record of making new and innovative treatment available to patients.

"I am determined that this continues.

"Securing access to treatments for patients at an affordable price remains the key priority.

"However, we cannot have a situation whereby exorbitant prices make it effectively impossible to access a new treatment like Orkambi."

Irish Independent

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