Fianna Fáil Seanad Leader Darragh O’Brien has accused the Minister for Health of denying a significantly improved quality of life to hundreds of people suffering from multiple sclerosis.  The drug Fampyra is currently not included in the list of medications approved under the drug payment scheme.

Senator O’Brien commented: “1500 people suffering from MS were able to avail of this new drug Fampyra for free as part of a trial for the first six months of the year.  Many showed a significant improvement in mobility and quality of life and the drug has been hugely beneficial to them.  However the HSE has not agreed to carry the drug under the drug payment scheme since July.

“This medication costs €270 a month.  That is a small price to pay for the vastly improved quality of life it provides for MS sufferers.  It’s estimated approximately 8,000 people suffer from MS in Ireland.  It is the most common neurological disorder among young adults.  Although symptoms are different from person to person, people with MS may experience fatigue, blurred vision, numbness, loss of balance, difficulty walking and even paralysis.  Fampyra is a treatment to help walking improvement.

“I am appalled by the lack of action from Minister Varadkar on this matter.  I raised this with the Minister directly in the Seanad last week and I am simply asking him take responsibility for decisions directly under his remit.  The assessment of the drug price has been in the sitting in the HSE since July 22nd.  The reality is there are people who were active and working while taking this drug earlier in the year and because they cannot afford the costs now their condition has worsened.

“In response to questions on this issue Minister Varadkar has said it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to get involved.  The Minister has shamefully washed his hands of the entire issue.  The Government needs to show compassion towards these patients who need access to a drug that can utterly change their quality of life.  It is unfair and undignified to continue to deny them this.”