Simon Harris to push for cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi at EU talks

He will attend round table talks on drug pricing

Simon Harris to push for cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi at EU talks

Health Minister Simon Harris arriving at Government Buildings in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

The health minister is to highlight the use of cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi during talks with other European ministers.

Simon Harris will attend a round table meeting in Lisbon on Wednesday to discuss drug pricing.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Minister Harris said: "When I became minister for health, I identified the need to work with other countries on the issue of drug pricing as a priority.

"Our country has a great track record of making new and innovative treatment available to patients. I am determined that this continues.

"Securing access to treatments for patients at an affordable price remains a key priority. However, we cannot have a situation whereby exorbitant prices make it effectively impossible to access new treatments.

"I very much welcome the engagement taking place between EU countries on these issues. The challenges and opportunities in this area are common to all member states.

"I want to ensure that Irish patients continue to have access to new medicines and treatments."

Mr Harris says he has also written to health ministers in the UK, Scotland, Canada and Australia.

"(I am) asking that we co-operate on this in order to try to secure this drug Orkambi for all our patients and I intend to take the opportunity of this meeting in Lisbon to also highlight the issue of Orkambi and to seek co-operation with colleagues on this matter", Minister Harris added.

The State's medicines watchdog - the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) - believes Orkambi is too expensive.

The drug costs the Health Service Executive (HSE) €159,000 per patient annually - a price the watchdog has deemed too high, when compared to the benefits the drug provides to patients.

It follows reports that Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug, threatened to increase the price during talks.