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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
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Women who suffer severe pregnancy sickness to have access to drug free of charge from January

Cariban can cost women up to €3,000 over the course of a pregnancy.

WOMEN WHO SUFFER from extreme sickness during pregnancy will get access to a life-changing drug free of charge from January.

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

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.

This year’s budget set out that funding of €1 million would be set aside to facilitate reimbursement of drug. 

While the budget announcement was welcomed by those who have been tirelessly campaigning for years for access to the drug questions remained as to when exactly women would have access to the drug for free. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly previously told The Journal that he hoped to have the scheme in place by January. 

A spokesperson for for the minister has now confirmed that since the budget day announcement, work has been underway with the Medicines Management Programme to develop a Managed Access Protocol (MAP) and the Primary Care Reimbursement Service to put the necessary systems in place to enable reimbursement.

When asked for clarity on when women can expect to be able to apply for the reimbursement service, the spokesperson said the system should be up and running in the new year: 

“It is intended that Cariban would become available though this MAP from January.”

The budget announcement in September detailed how Cariban would be fully reimbursed when prescribed by a consultant obstetrician. 

However, questions were asked by campaigners as to why their GP cannot provide the prescription. 

Donnelly told The Journal what was recommended to him is that it be made available on prescription from a treating obstetrician, but the minister said he wanted to investigate that further given what he said were “legitimate questions” as to why a GP could prescribe the drug.

It is now understood that following work over the last two months, the current proposal is that Cariban must initially be prescribed by a consultant obstetrician, though repeat prescriptions could then be issued to the patient by their GP.

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