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Still time to do the right thing for thousands of chronic pain sufferers - Senator Rose Conway-Walsh

21 February, 2018 - by Rose Conway-Walsh

Senator Rose Conway-Walsh addressed the to Minister of State, Jim Daly, in the Seanad today and advised that it is not too late to do the right thing for thousands of people suffering chronic pain and their families.

Speaking during the debate on Versatis in the Seanad, Senator Conway-Walsh said:

"The decision to restrict prescribing Vesatis has caused physical pain and mental distress to thousands of low income citizens and their families.

"For several weeks now we have unsuccessfully tried to get answers to a number of questions.

"Did the HSE make any attempt to negotiate a better price with the manufacturers of Versatis, before this decision was taken?

"Was a full and proper cost benefit analysis carried out before limiting access to Versatis? 

"Did they consider the extra costs associated with alternative medication, hospitalisation, home help, home care hours and anti-depressants?

"How can we say it’s perfectly fine to prescribe Versatis for non-shingles related pain relief to those who can pay, but it is not suitable for those on low-incomes dependent on medical cards or the drugs payment scheme?

"Minister do you not trust the judgement of GP’s and Medical Consultants?  

"Do you not think that introducing the additional layer of approval totally undermines the patient/GP/Consultant relationship?  

"No indication was given to GP’s on how to take patients of this treatment safely.

"A solution to this most distressing situation is possible. That solution has to be lasting and sustainable. That can only happen once the Government looks at the issue in a patient-centred and compassionate manner.

"Minister, at the stroke of a pen today, Minister Harris can go back to the HSE and request them to carry out a review the decision to restrict Versatis.  

"He can ask them to revert to the pre-december position whereby those experiencing chronic and unbearable pain can avail of Versatis regardless of their income.

"The time spent by very Senior personnel within the HSE would be better spent examining international research that demonstrates the effectiveness of Versatis rather than looking at appeals.

"Mile buiochas to each and every person who has picked up the phone or took pen to paper to tell us their personal experience, to tell us of their pain and the need to continue the only effective treatment.  

"I also want to acknowledge the important part our National Broadcaster RTE through the Joe Duffy Show has played in ensuring that the voices of those suffering the most are heard.

"I want to thank Chronic Pain Ireland, Arthritis Ireland, Fibro Ireland, MS Ireland and all of the other organisations who seek to serve the most vulnerable in our society for the work they are doing to get this decision reversed."

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