By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, email@example.com
Ireland seems to be the stage of some of the most bizarre pharmaceutical company behaviour these days. This month, the pharmaceutical company CSL Behring announced it will no longer provide Respreeza (human alpha1-proteinase inhibitor), a treatment for hereditary emphysema, for free. Most of the patients that depend on the programme had volunteered to be part of the clinical trials to test the product, which was necessary to obtain a marketing authorisation for the product. CSL Behring gained such authorisation in 2015 and priced the product at €103,768 (VAT incl.) per year’s treatment. Here you can find the cost-effectiveness evaluation by the Irish National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The company has now told the patients that the donation programme they depend on will come to a halt. Of course, if they pay the price or persuade the government to pay, the patients can get access to the product. This case is particularly bitter because the patients who are left out in the cold are the very people that helped the company get its marketing approval. In other walks of life, this would be called a hostage situation.