HSE and Minister for Health split on new CF drug

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

The HSE has ruled out funding for a new breakthrough drug for cystic fibrosis sufferers, although the Minister for Health hasn't.

The Sunday Business Post claims Orkambi, which is the first ever treatment targeting the cause of the condition, would cost €92m each year, the equivalent of annual funding for Temple Street Children's Hospital.

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland has called the drug a "game-changer" which would extend the lives of patients, who currently rarely live beyond their 40s.

The head of the HSE Tony O'Brien told the Sunday Business Post that despite the drug's benefits, there is not enough money in the public purse to pay for it.

However, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said he would seek additional funds for the new drug for cystic fibrosis sufferers, if it is approved by the independent agency assessing it.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in the Politics, Mr Varadkar said the drug had only been licensed in the past couple of weeks, and has not yet been reimbursed by public health agencies across Europe.