State has paid out more than €1.5bn in Hep C blood contamination scandal
Hepatitic C treatment costs range from €23,000 to €92,000, report says
An estimated 1,700 people contracted Hep C as a result of contaminated blood and blood products.
The State has paid out more than €1.5 billion in compensation, supports and services to who were infected with the Hepatitis C virus through the administration of contaminated blood and other products, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) has found.
In his annual report published on Friday the comptroller said an estimated 1,700 people had contracted the condition as a result of contaminated blood and blood products, mostly between the 1970s and 1990s.
The report says €1.17 billion has been paid out on compensation and associated legal and administrative costs.
It says that in 2002 the compensation scheme for patients who developed Hepatitis C was extended to those who contracted the HIV virus in similar circumstances .
The report says the majority of the remaining expenditure incurred related to hospital and primary care services which were provided to patients without charge.
The C&AG report says that overall the HSE estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 people in Ireland are infected with Hepatitis C. It says that at present injecting drug use is the most common risk factor. It says a course of treatment can cost between €23,000 and €92,000.
The C&AG report said the HSE considered that significant progress had been made in providing treatment for Hepatitis C as a result of the development of a national treatment programme in 2015 and that all those infected by blood and blood products had been offered treatment by end 2017.
“Since 2017, about 98 per cent of patients who opted to accept treatment had a successful outcome. “
The report says that the total net spend on the Hepatitis C treatment programme was around €30 million in 2017. It says 1,072 patients commenced treatment at an average net cost of around €28,000.
However it says “the outturn was significantly different from what was planned.
“By end July 2017, when the HSE had planned to have utilised around 60 percent of the net budget available, the majority of the net budget available had been used. The programme was suspended to allow the HSE to determine how many patients the remaining budget could support to commence treatment to end 2017. “
“In September 2017, treatment centres were advised that they could recommence treatment but could only select patients for treatment in instances where the preferred regimen was being used to treat genotype 1. “
“The HSE stated that this decision was taken in order to support clinicians in having access to some treatment until such time as an updated financial position was available. In October 2017, treatment centres were advised that they could select patients for treatment based on those in most critical need such as those with chronic liver disease.1 These measures continued through to the end of 2017 to ensure that the programme operated within budget for the year.”