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'Patients are being put at risk': Funding issues stopping 20,000 people receiving 'life-saving' meds

The medication has been proven to help cardiac problems.

Image: Shutterstock/ldutko

LABOUR’S HEALTH SPOKESMAN Alan Kelly has called on the HSE to act immediately to make available nine drugs which he claimed are “caught in a funding logjam”.

In the case of one particular drug, Kelly claimed that it took 10 months to refer the life-saving medication Entresto to the Department of Health. The department then took two months to refer it back to the HSE.

Entresto, which is used primarily to treat those with heart failure, has been certified as being cost-effective and life-saving.

As things stand, the drug has been referred for approval and is currently unavailable to tbe dispensed in Irish pharmacies or hospitals. -

The drug has also passed testing by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics. This group considers the cost effectiveness of all new medicines following receipt of an application for reimbursement under the Community Drugs Schemes. This scheme means that an individual or family in Ireland only has to pay €144 each month for approved prescribed drugs.

Kelly has hit out at the apparent miscommunication between the department and the HSE.

He said: ”What is going on? Why send them to the department if they are only going to refer them right back to you? Is this any way to run a health service?

“Patients are suffering while the HSE and the department are playing pass the parcel. This drug is routinely available across Europe and has been fast-tracked for approval in the US. Yet it is still caught in this funding logjam or parcel passing exercise.

“Minister Harris did the right thing when it came to Orkambi, but when he has had to make an unpopular decision and choose which drugs to fund – he has kicked for touch right back to the HSE.”

Dr Niall Colwell, who is a cardiologist based in Clonmel, said that the issue seems to revolve around funding but spoke very highly of the drug’s effects.

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He told Morning Ireland: “It’s been shown in trials to reduce fatalities. It’s been deferred for approval in Ireland and patients are being put at risk. It’s not clear to me what the problem is. It has gone between the HSE and the department and it has not yet received funding.”

A statement from the Department of Health read: “The Department and the HSE are in correspondence on the matter.

“It should be noted that in line with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medicines) Act 2013, the decision in relation to the reimbursement of all medicines remains the statutory responsibility of the HSE.”

The HSE told Morning Ireland it approved the reimbursement of this drug but they are discussing the funding requirements of this drug with the department.

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