Saturday 17 March 2018

'Game changer' drug for sufferers of cystic fibrosis will not be funded by HSE - Dáil

Micheál Martin
Micheál Martin
John Downing

John Downing

A new wonder drug which could transform the lives of 60pc of the country’s cystic fibrosis sufferers is not being funded by the Health Service Executive, the Dáil has been told.

“Orkambi” has been shown to tackle the root causes of the condition which has blighted the lives of 1,200 adults and children in Ireland.

Fianna Fáil leader, Michéal Martin, condemned the Government's failure to sanction the expensive drug for a refund under the HSE scheme. He said the drug was a “game-changer” which could transform quality of life.

“Why don’t you be a man and be straight with the people,” Mr Martin said during heated Dáil exchanges.  He added that the HSE spending plans, published today, lacked vision as had been expressed by HSE boss, Tony O’Brien.

Mr Kenny said the assessment of which expensive drugs were eligible for refund was entirely decided by HSE officials following expert scientific advice. 

“These decisions are not political – they are made on objective scientific grounds,” the Taoiseach said.

The Taoiseach also rounded on Mr Martin arguing that he knows all these things as a former Health Minister himself and as a founder of the HSE.

“You’re a great man, Deputy Martin, to talk about vision,” Mr Kenny said. He insisted he could not engage in commercial negotiations in the Dáil chamber.

Mr Kenny told Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, that the reduction in the numbers holding medical cards was caused by the economic revival which created more jobs. He added that anyone getting work could keep the medical card for three years and in some cases they could later get a GP visit card.

Mr Adams said there would 50,000 fewer medical cards next year, 2016, the centenary of the Easter Rising.

“You’re telling the people they can have everything for nothing. Higher taxes, less jobs, less disposable income,” Mr Kenny told the Sinn Féin leader.

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