Orkambi maker threatened price rise during state talks

Pharmaceutical company Vertex said patients would continue to receive the cystic fibrosis drug while negotiations continued

Vertex Pharmaceuticals threatened to increase the price of Orkambi in response to HSE's proposed scheme allowing cystic fibrosis patients to access the drug.

The company initially sought €159,000 per patient annually for the drug, but the price was reduced during negotiations.

The Sunday Business Post reports that the HSE asked Vertex about exploring the possibility of implementing an outcomes-based model, where an agreed price is payed if a medication achieves specific outcomes for patients.

"Vertex made clear that it wasn't willing to engage in an outcomes-based model which addressed HSE core concerns around pricing," the HSE said.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals also rejected the HSE's request to allow the health service unveil details of the confidential negotiations that were held on the drug.

The company continues to refuse to assure patients on Orkambi that they will continue to have access to the drug even if the HSE decides against funding it.

Earlier this month, the HSE drugs committee rejected Orkambi, concluding it did not provide enough health benefits to patients to justify the cost of the drug. Austria is currently the only country that had agreed to fund the drug.

The HSE directorate is due to make the final call on the drug on Monday week.