Fianna Fáil says 71,543 medical cards removed in the last year

New anti-hepatitis C drug could cure up to 200 people at risk of death in next two years

More than 70,000 people had their medical cards removed in the past year and more than 17,000 were from people over 70, the Seanad was told.

Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Darragh O’Brien said the issue “has not gone away” as he highlighted that in the year between September 2013 and 2014, a total of 71,251 medical cards were removed and 17,543 were over-70s cards.

He called for the Minister for Health to address the House on the issue. Independent John Crown also sought the Minister’s attendance to give the exact timeline for the provision of the anti-hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.

He said “we do not have many drugs that can actually cure a fatal illness – but this drug has been shown to be curative for patients with hepatitis C infection”. He said up to 200 patients had been identified for “whom there is a real proximate risk of death within the next one to two years if this drug is not made available to them”.


Prof Crown added: "The drug itself has been associated with an extraordinarily high rate of complete clearance and probable cure of the virus which causes hepatitis C. It has also been shown to enormously reduce the risk of cancer in patients with hepatitis C."

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins said the Minister would attend the Seanad for a debate on health matters on November 4th.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times