EXPENSIVE new drugs, which were not being released to patients because of funding difficulties, are to become available under a new deal with pharamaceutical companies.
The Irish Independent first highlighted how vital drugs, which a watchdog had deemed cost-effective, were being denied to patients because of the price.
The move follows an agreement yesterday between the Department of Health and the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), which represents drug companies.
Savings of €20m generated from common drugs will open the way for the HSE to release the new medicines.
Under the deal, the price of an off-patent medicine will fall by 30pc once its generic equivalent comes on the market.
Previously, the reduction in off-patent prices was 20pc followed by 15pc after 22 months. Now, drugs which are already 20pc lower in price will be cut by another 10pc.
This opens the way for the HSE to fund the expensive new drugs to treat hepatitis C, bipolar disorder and strokes.
Once they have been added to the state schemes, they will be free to medical-card patients. Private patients will not have to pay more than €132 a month.
IPHA president David Gallagher said: "This is a good day for patients, who will now have broad universal access to new innovative therapies restored."