Orkambi maker Vertex "willing to re-engage" with the HSE

The issue of drug prices have been discussed by health ministers

Orkambi maker Vertex "willing to re-engage" with the HSE

A cystic fibrosis sufferer holding a box of Orkambi tablets outside Leinster House in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Health Service Executive (HSE) say the maker of cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi is willing to re-engage in negotiations on price.

The response from Vertex came following a letter from the HSE.

In a statement, the HSE says: "The manufacturer of Orkambi (Vertex) has indicated its willingness to re-engage in negotiations on the price of that drug.

"The HSE would wish that these negotiations could recommence immediately and has called on the company to set out a more realistic price which is both reasonable and affordable for Irish patients.

"In the interests of transparency, the HSE calls once more on Vertex to make it clear to the Irish public the price it intends to charge for this medicine and to stop hiding behind commercial confidentiality clauses."

While Health Minister Simon Harris said he was "pleased to learn" that Vertex has responded to the HSE with a view to re-engage in negotiations.

Speaking from a meeting with EU health ministers in Lisbon, he said: "I have always said that Vertex need to re-engage in a meaningful way with the HSE that addresses the core issue of price and affordability.

"In that context the company must return to the table with a significantly better offer.

"This has not happened to date and I again call on the company to re-engage in a meaningful way.

"However, I was pleased to learn that Vertex has responded to the HSE today with a view to re-engage in negotiations with them on Orkambi."

Mr Harris also said he raised this issue of the "unacceptably high price" Vertex has put on the drug with his counterparts.

"I want to see CF patients receive access to the best treatments possible. That remains my priority."

It comes after thousands of people protested about the situation outside the Dáil earlier.