Health Service Executive rejects MS drug again

Decision comes as a blow to patients who are paying up to €500 a month for Fampridine

Denis Naughten, TD, believes Ireland should be a pilot country for State-funded multiple sclerosis drug. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Denis Naughten, TD, believes Ireland should be a pilot country for State-funded multiple sclerosis drug. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Health Service Executive has rejected a second application from the makers of a drug that helps people with multiple sclerosis to walk to have it covered by State-funded drug schemes.

The decision will come as a blow to MS patients who are paying up to €500 a month for Fampridine (known commercially as Fampyra), which greatly increases mobility among some of those with the condition.

The HSE first rejected the reimbursement of the drug in May 2013, saying the manufacturer, Biogen Idec, had failed to demonstrate or provide any formal justification for the prices it proposed.

Its drugs committee recommended further discussions take place with neurologists about new drugs that are emerging to treat MS, before Fampridine was reconsidered. Discussions with Biogen Idec started again in July and the company said it offered “additional and significant reductions” in price.

However, yesterday the HSE told Independent TD Denis Naughten “the manufacturer has been unable to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of Fampridine in the Irish healthcare setting”.

“The HSE decision on Fampridine is in line with many other European countries which have also, to date, not provided the drug under their public health systems.”

Mr Naughten said: “Rather than both sides continuing to horse trade on this life-altering drug, I’m proposing that the HSE and the company sit down and let Ireland become a specific pilot to design a roll-out scheme and pricing structure for Fampyra.”

Outlining his proposal Mr Naughten said: “With 8,000 people with MS in Ireland, which is a relatively small cohort, and in light of the fact that the northwest of Ireland has one of the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the world, we are in an ideal situation to evaluate which patients can benefit from this drug.

Mr Naughten called on the HSE and the Government to enter direct talks with the manufacturer with the aim of making Ireland a pilot country for rolling out the drug.

The National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, which rules on the cost-effectiveness of new drugs, found Fampyra would cost nearly €7,000 a patient each year. It said the €20 million annual cost to the State over five years would take money from other areas.