Nine new life-changing drugs are to be made available later this year after the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health resolved a dispute over funding the medication.

The drugs include those used to treat cancer, heart disease and depression and will be funded this year from the HSE's existing budget.

The HSE said some of the treatments will be available to patients towards the end of September and that it hoped to make all available "as soon as is feasibly possible".

It said it will now commence the "prescribing process and protocols" that would apply to all new drugs.

The executive says that while speedy provision of these new treatments is a priority, of paramount concern is patient safety.

It means that all of the drugs may not be available at the same time because the prescribing protocols have to be worked out for doctors.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has welcomed the decision, saying it "represents another major investment by the HSE in innovative medicines."

The HSE also said that it had received clarity on funding from 2018 onwards in a letter it received today from the Department of Health.

Yesterday, RTÉ News revealed correspondence from the department to the HSE in which it said it believed the HSE had the money to fund new drugs this year.

The HSE had told the department it could not fund the drugs from its current budget and that they would cost around €117 million over five years.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association welcomed the new drugs deal.

IPHA Chief Executive Oliver O'Connor said lessons need to be learned from the process.

He said it was vital that doctors be informed as soon as possible when they can prescribe the drugs.

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall said that patients have been caught in the middle of the dispute between the two parties.

Ms Shortall said there needs to be a streamlined system for approved funding for drugs, once they are found to be cost-effective.

She said that in the past patients had to take to the streets to campaign for access to new drugs which was unacceptable.

Labour's health spokesperson Alan Kelly said clarity is needed over when the drugs will be made available and "why the Minister has washed his hands of responsibility for the issue, and why delayed decisions on health policy issues are only being resolved following negative media coverage."


The nine drugs are:

  • Erivedge for basal cell carcinoma
  • Brintellix for depression
  • Entresto for heart failure
  • Lynparza for ovarian cancer
  • Gazyvaro for follicular lymphoma
  • Entyvio for Crohn's and ulcerative colitis
  • Opdivo for renal cell carcinoma
  • Opdivo for Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Otezla for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis