Fine Gael TDs and members of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Jerry Buttimer and Regina Doherty, are urging the HSE to fast track the assessment of a new life changing drug being used to treat Multiple Sclerosis. A number of MS patients are currently benefitting from a trial of Fampyra, but the trial is due to end shortly and the medication is not currently available on the General Medical Scheme (GMS).
The Deputies met with MS sufferers taking Fampyra last week and raised the issue with the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, in the Dáil this week.
Deputy Doherty said: ‘The manufacturers of Fampyra, Biogen, were originally refused access to the GMS when they first applied. Biogen has made the drug available free of charge on a trial basis for some MS sufferers. It has had a transformative effect on their lives. These patients are now very concerned about how they will deteriorate when the drug trial ends later this month’.
“I was pleased to learn that Biogen has reapplied for inclusion in the GMS, which would allow the State to cover the cost of providing to these patients. I have urged the Minister to ensure the HSE fast tracks the application process so the MS sufferers can be put at ease about the supply of their medication.
“I agree with the Minister’s call for drug companies to engage in greater risk sharing when it comes to covering the cost of new medications. The State cannot be expected to foot the entire bill in every case. The Minister has said the HSE will deal with the Biogen application without delay, so I hope the application process can go ahead as quickly as possible.”
Deputy Buttimer said: ‘Fampyra has had a huge impact on the lives of patients with a certain strain of MS. It helps with 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. While it is encouraging that the manufacturer has resubmitted its application for inclusion on the GMS, I would also call on the company to continue to provide the drug free of charge until the situation is resolved’.
“Minister Reilly has said that he understands how anxious these patients are due to the impending end of their drug trial. They simply will not be able to afford to pay for the medication themselves and therefore I hope HSE can act quickly and include the Famprya on the GMS and community drugs schemes.”