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RTE News: Dept claims HSE has funds for life-changing new drugs

Posted on 3 months ago by Laurentina Kennedy The RFT Group 012302400

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Nine new drugs are still on hold for public patients (file picture)

Nine new drugs are still on hold for public patients (file picture)

The Department of Health has told the HSE it believes the executive has money to fund new drugs this year, despite HSE claims that it cannot do so within its current budget.

Nine new drugs, which have been found to be clinically effective and cost effective and which the HSE wants to provide, are still on hold for public patients, in what appear to be major divisions between the HSE and the department.

The drugs include new treatments for cancer, depression and heart conditions.

The HSE wrote to the department saying the five-year cost of funding the nine drugs would be around €120 million and it effectively was seeking Government support for extra funding to do this.

In correspondence with the HSE, the department has told the executive that the final decision in relation to providing medicines remains the statutory responsibility of the HSE.

It has also informed the executive that it believes the HSE has funds to provide the drugs this year due to underspending - including in the Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme.

The long-term funding of the drugs into 2018 and over future years is not addressed.

Minister for Health Simon Harris is "not in a position to seek supplementary Exchequer funding" for any cost which may arise this year as a result of HSE decisions to support new medicines, according to Department of Health correspondence with the HSE, seen by RTÉ News.

The department has said it believes the HSE has scope to fund these medicines this year.

The nine drugs are:

Erivedge for basal cell carcinoma
Brintellix for depression
Entresto for heart failure
Lynparza for ovarian cancer
Gazyvaro for follicular lymphoma
Entyvio for Crohn's & ulcerative colitis
Opdivo for renal cell carcinoma
Opdivo for Hodgkin's lymphoma
Otezla for psoriasis & psoriatic arthritis

Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly said life-saving drugs were caught in delays for 12 months.

He said the HSE took ten months to refer the life-saving heart failure drug, Entresto, to the Department of Health and the department took two months to refer it back to the HSE.

Mr Kelly said patients were suffering while the HSE and the department play "pass the parcel".