Funding on a limited basis has been agreed by the Health Service Executive for cost of a drug that helps people with multiple sclerosis walk.
The drug Fampridine (known commercially as Fampyra) that is to be reimbursed under the State-funded drugs has greatly aided the mobility of patients. It is in the final stages of putting in place the arrangement around a "responder-based" reimbursement programme for Fampridine, said HSE.
The cost of the drug will be covered where a demonstration of clinical response, based on objective criteria agreed with clinical experts, is recorded, it says. This clinical response must be shown to persist based on objective measurement at six-monthly intervals.
It was found that Fampridine would cost nearly €7,000 per patient each year by the National Center for Pharmacoeconomics, which rules on the cost-effectiveness of new drugs in 2013. It said the €20 million annual cost to the State over five years would take money from other areas.
And then the HSE decided that it could not approve the reimbursement of Fampridine and claimed the manufacturer, Biogen Idec, had failed to demonstrate or provide any formal justification for the prices proposed.
Agreement has now been reached on a reimbursement arrangement. Patients have been paying up to €500 a month for Fampridine from their own resources after Biogen started charging for the drug last year following a free trial period.
Multiple Sclerosis Ireland expressed delight with the progress on reimbursing Fampridine, which it said had a significant impact on patients' ability to remain independent.