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We must listen to women with Hyperemesis and provide the support needed – Ahearn

1st May 2021 - Senator Garret Ahearn

It is time we listened to women with Hyperemesis and provided the support needed, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Senator Garret Ahearn raised the issue on the floor of the Seanad this week, seeking for a drug to treat the condition to be reimbursed on the medical card and drugs payment scheme.

Senator Ahearn said: “One per cent of pregnant women suffer from hyperemesis during their pregnancy. The condition causes severe nausea and vomiting and can be extremely debilitating.

“Three drugs are used to treat this condition of which only one is available in Ireland, Cariban, however it is not licensed.

“The drug can cost up to €2.40 per tablet and must be taken 4 times a day so the total cost is €3,000 during a full pregnancy. This drug is half the cost in Spain and is sold over the counter.

“Irish women with hyperemesis, through no fault of their own, are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The HSE say that  Cariban cannot be reimbursed because it is not licensed, but women have no access to licensed medication, and it seems there is no possibility of them being reimbursed in the foreseeable future.

“It is utterly unacceptable that Viagra is reimbursed for those on a medical card but women with hyperemesis cannot receive the medication they need to cope during pregnancy.

“I raised the matter in the Seanad this week asking for the Minister for Health to request that the HSE prioritise this important women’s health issue. I would like to see the HSE apply some compassion and common sense to find a solution. It makes sense for women, their families, the HSE and the wider economy for patients to be able access HSE-recommended treatments at an affordable price.

“When we listen to the experiences of women with this condition it is clear they need this medication.

Speaking to Hyperemesis Ireland, one woman said “I want another baby so much. I am working extra hours so that I can afford it as I know that I will be off work with Hyperemesis. I will have to pay for medication and extra childcare as I physically won’t be able to mind my other two children.”

Another said “I was vomiting up to 20 times a day and lost 20KG.  If you are on a low income, it is impossible to afford the medication and you cannot continue to work.”

Senator Ahearn concluded “It is time these women’s stories were heard. It would be very beneficial for the HSE to meet with Hyperemesis Ireland to discuss this issue and find out about how the condition affects women. I would like to see this arranged as soon as possible.”

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