'Clearly what they said was their final offer is not their final offer' - Simon Harris on Orkambi negotiations

Talks between the HSE and Vertex over the cost of the cystic fibrosis drug are to recommence

'Clearly what they said was their final offer is not their final offer' - Simon Harris on Orkambi negotiations

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

The Health Minister says he entirely agrees that the manufacturers of the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi are ripping off the Irish taxpayer.

Negotiations between the HSE and Vertex are to recommence. However, the HSE has said it cannot pay the near proposed €160,000 per patient per year price tag.

In a statement, the HSE called on the company "to set out a more realistic price which is both reasonable and affordable for Irish patients".

It adds: "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."

Thousands of people protested about the situation outside the Dáil yesterday.

Simon Harris says he wants to see cystic fibrosis patients get the drug - but that can only happen if Vertex reduce the price.

"We cannot have a company that has a monopoly on one product engaging in price gouging. That's my fear that's what has happened to date.

"The important thing now is that the HSE have had contact from Vertex, and Vertex have said they wish to re-engage. So clearly what they said was their final offer is not any longer their final offer."