Monday 27 January 2020

Bill of health

• A number of your medically-related articles (Irish Independent, April 3) made for interesting reading.

There were some excellent 'good news' stories -- including 'Best pal saved my life by giving me a kidney' (page 10) -- but, unfortunately, these heartwarming stories were overshadowed by Eilish O'Regan's clear and concise reporting of 'Thousands of patients losing out on life-saving drugs due to cuts' (page 10) and 'VHI pays 30 consultants more than €500,000 each' (page 11) and in one case reaching €1m.

The cuts in relation to new medicines and the HSE's High Tech Drug Scheme were particularly disappointing, given that the watchdog for health economics, the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, had indicated that a number of these new drugs were good value for money.

One such new drug is Pradaxa, a heart drug that can prevent strokes. In a clinical trial of more than 18,000 people, Pradaxa -- taken as a simple pill -- reduced the risk of stroke 35pc more than the current approach -- high-dose warfarin -- and it has been also shown to be safer for many patients as well as more effective.

Indeed, the UK's independent drug guidance body, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), has recommended Pradaxa for the prevention of strokes and clots.

However, here in Ireland the economic argument against using Pradaxa put forward by the HSE is a short-term reaction and does not consider the long-term health economic costs associated with direct care for stroke patients, particularly in an already 'stretched to the limit' Irish health system.

A single Pradaxa capsule costs €3 -- capping some of the exorbitant apparent earnings of our medical consultants could provide significant preventative benefit for hundreds of stroke victims in waiting. Remember -- your health is your wealth... not theirs!

Name and address with Editor

Irish Independent

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