Drug funding welcome but media coverage forces decision making again

28 July 2017

Labour spokesperson on Health, Alan Kelly TD, has welcomed the announcement that nine new drugs will be made available later this year, after a row over funding was resolved between the HSE and Department of Health.

However Deputy Kelly said that clarity was now needed over when these drugs will be made available to Irish users, why the Minister has washed his hands of responsibility for the issue, and why delayed decisions on health policy issues are only being resolved following negative media coverage.

Deputy Kelly said.

“I welcome the news that the HSE and Department of Health have managed to find the money in the current budget to make these drugs available to those who need them. All nine of these drugs have passed the clinical examinations by the HSE, however Entresto has been shown to be cost effective and will prevent patients ending up on in acute care.

“This decision is long-overdue, and unfortunately it is the patients that have been caught up in the crossfire of this embarrassing dispute.

“The NCPE passed these drugs this time last year, and yet the Department of Health sat on its hands for nearly a year. We need to know why the Minister for Health has washed his hands of responsibility for this issue, leaving it to civil servants and health managers to resolve.

“We also need to know why, once again, serious issues in our health service are only resolved when they attract negative media attention. People’s lives are often at stake yet it requires patients and doctors taking to the airwaves for policy decisions to be made.

“There is also a real issue with drug costs in this country, which has to be analysed. Why is it more expensive for drugs to be provided in Ireland than in other countries?

“The Minister for Health and the Government needs to take responsibility for these critical health issues, as it is only with political intervention that it appears now that problems are being solved.”

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