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Cariban: Drug to help women who suffer severe pregnancy sickness to be given free of charge

Previously, pregnant women had been charged an average of €1.80 a pill.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

WOMEN WHO SUFFER from extreme sickness during pregnancy will get a life-changing drug free of charge as part of Budget 2023 measures. 

The drug, known as Cariban, is currently unavailable on the drugs payment scheme or medical card.

Today’s budget sets out funding to “facilitate reimbursement of morning sickness drug Cariban”.

It comes as part of a €32.2 million women’s health budget for 2023 which will also include enhanced access to IVF treatments from September 2023 and an extension of the free contraception scheme to 16 year olds and those aged 26 to 30 (currently it applies to those aged 17-25).  

Cariban will be fully reimbursed when prescribed by a consultant obstetrician for the treatment of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy (NVP), The Journal has been advised.

Women impacted by severe vomiting, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum or HG, have called for the State to reimburse Cariban, which can cost up to €3,000 over the course of a pregnancy. 

HG can profoundly debilitate those who suffer with it. While a majority of women experience regular morning sickness (which can actually occur at any time of the day), HG is a lot more serious and can often mean multiple hospitalisations.

The Department of Health previously said that it had been advised that Cariban was considered to be a food supplement, rather than a medicinal product. Therefore, the department maintained that it could not be considered for reimbursement as an Exempt Medicinal Product under the medical card, Community Drug Schemes, or reimbursement under Discretionary Hardship Arrangements.

This is something a number of pharmacists, as well as Hyperemesis Ireland, a charity that has campaigned tirelessly for years for reimbursement, took issue with.

The department later did a u-turn in the matter stating that Cariban is not a food supplement.”

Such a clarification brought forward the possibility of reimbursement. 

Separately, VAT will no longer be charged on HRT or period products. 

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