Fine Gael TDs and members of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Jerry Buttimer and Regina Doherty, have urged the HSE to take action to ensure Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients can continue to receive a new drug which is significantly improving their condition. The TDs were speaking after they met with MS sufferers using the drug.
The drug - fampridine (Fampyra®) - is not currently available on the General Medical Scheme, and has been provided free of charge on a trial basis by the manufacturer to certain MS sufferers.
Deputy Buttimer said: ‘The use of the drug fampridine has had a huge impact on these patients’ lives. It helps MS sufferers with their mobility and walking speed, and also has an impact on hand function, allowing those with the disease to carry out routine functions much more easily’.
“The manufacturers of the drug have been supplying it free of charge on a trial basis to some patients, however the MS sufferers we met with today are concerned about what will happen when this trial ends at the end of this month. We are calling on the HSE to actively engage with the company to find a way forward. The patients simply won’t be able to afford to pay for the drug themselves for the foreseeable future.”
Deputy Doherty said: ‘I was struck by just how big a difference this new drug is making to those suffering with MS. It is not suitable for every MS patient; in fact it is only effective for about one in three of those with the disease. But for those for whom it is effective, their quality of living is vastly improved’.
“I know that the HSE has considered the inclusive of fampridine in the General Medical Scheme and Community Drugs Schemes, but it decided that the manufacturer didn’t prove that the drug provided value for money.
“However studies are ongoing which clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the drug, and I understand that the manufacturer is going to submit a revised application, which will be reconsidered by the HSE. It is crucially important that the HSE fully considers the impact this drug is having on the lives of certain MS sufferers. I am calling on the company to make every effort to put a compelling case forward to prove that this drug is vitally important to MS patients.”