Monday 19 February 2018

'I am asking for the space' - Harris appeals for more time to reach deal on CF drugs

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Health Minister Simon Harris has appealed for a few more weeks to finalise discussions on a price deal for the cystic fibrosis drugs Orkambi and Kalydeco.

He appealed to campaigners who are desperate to make the drugs available to allow him space.

Around 500 people with cystic fibrosis are appealing for access to Orkambi but the price originally demanded by the makers Vertex was deemed too expensive for the HSE.

There is also pressure to extend access to Kalydeco for younger children with the disease.

He said tonight that he expects the talks on the deal to be concluded in a matter of weeks.

The main priority is to make sure that any agreement reached would provide certainty to Irish patients on the provision of Orkambi, Kalydeco and other drugs now and in the future, he said.

“I am extremely conscious that the last number of months have been an extraordinarily stressful and worrying time for many CF patients and their families.

"However, progress has been made and this process is now entering a critical phase. I am asking for the space for this process to be concluded with the objective that we can achieve a deal which provides certainty now and in the future. 

"Given the level of investment and the scale of the potential benefits for CF patients, there are important commercial and contractual aspects which have to be agreed in the interests of patients and the health service overall.     

"In asking for the space to bring finality to this matter, I wish to assure CF patients and families that I believe the process can be concluded in a period of weeks."

A protest at the ongoing delays in the talks is  to take place outside Leinster House on Wednesday.

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