Cariban should be available for women in pregnancy battling severe morning sickness - Clifford-Lee

Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has called on the Minister for Health to urgently consider extending the availability of ‘Cariban’ under HSE schemes in Ireland.

Cariban is a drug prescribed for Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a condition that causes extreme morning sickness type symptoms in some women during pregnancy.

Commenting on the need to broaden its availability, Senator Clifford-Lee said, “The Programme for Government sets out a specific commitment to improve women's health and overall well-being in Ireland.

“Pregnancy is not always a pleasant time for women, in fact it can be debilitating for very many. This is especially so for those diagnosed with Hyperemesis, also known as severe morning sickness.

“Cariban is an effective drug prescribed to counter the desperate symptoms caused by the condition but unfortunately it is unavailable to women under any scheme in Ireland - general medical services, the drugs payment scheme or the long-term illness scheme.

“The cost of the drug itself combined with potential hospital admission(s) to receive IV fluids is substantial, particularly while trying to save for the arrival of a new-born. It can in fact cost anywhere between €1,500 and €3,000 for a term of pregnancy and that is not covered by the medical card.

“Such is the expense of this drug, I have previously come across an online advert on a well-known Irish website attempting to sell two boxes of the medication for a knocked down price. Expecting women to turn to online advertisements to be able afford essential medication while suffering is downright unacceptable.

“The HSE has published clinical practice guidelines for treatment of this condition which state that if there are no improvements following a number of recommended treatments or therapies then Cariban should be prescribed. This drug may not be suitable to relieve the symptoms for every woman in pregnancy but surely it’s a game changer for those it does work on.

“Despite our own national Health Service Executive acknowledging the importance of this drug, the Minister confirmed this month that Cariban is not licensed as a medicine in Ireland.

“While I’m aware that some consultant Obstetrician’s and maternity hospitals do dispense this medication to patients suffering HG in pregnancy surely if it’s recommended by the HSE it should be covered under the Drugs Payment Scheme.

“Given this country's poor record historically in supporting women in pregnancy it’s both timely and appropriate to make sure that greater resources are provided to support women's health,” Senator Clifford-Lee concluded.