Seanad debates

Friday, 30 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:00 am

Photo of Garret AhearnGarret Ahearn (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Hyperemesis is a condition that one in ten women suffer from during pregnancy. It is a condition that became quite commonly known from Kate Middleton's pregnancy. It is a condition that women suffer from involving severe nausea and vomiting to the extreme levels that one cannot work or have any sort of normal pregnancy. There are three drugs for the condition, two of which are not available in Ireland and one of which is, namely Cariban. However, it is not licensed. The cost of it is €2.40 per tablet and it is recommended to take four per day. Therefore, the cost during a pregnancy is €3,000, which is not funded by the State at all. It is half the cost in Spain. Women with hyperemesis, through no fault of their own, are stuck between a rock and a hard place in having to pay for this.

I ask the Leader if the Minister for Health would ask the HSE to prioritise this important women's health issue. Will the Minister call on the HSE to meet Hyperemesis Ireland to discuss its campaign? Hyperemesis Ireland has been working hard on this issue in recent years. The organisation wrote to the HSE more than three weeks ago to request a meeting and it has not been granted to date. Does the Minister for Health still believe, as he did while in opposition, that the first-line medications for hyperemesis should be reimbursed on the medical card and the drugs payment scheme?

It is just not acceptable in this day and age that women are left to suffer on their own. How far do we have to go or how long do we have to wait before there is equality in this country? It seems incredibly ironic that Viagra can be reimbursed if one has a medical card but that women who suffer from hyperemesis receive no reimbursement whatsoever.

I want to read out a short quote to give a sense of what women are suffering through this. A 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 wont be able to mind my other two children, If you are on a low income, it is impossible to afford the medication and you cannot continue to work.

I was vomiting up to 20 times a day and lost 20KG. We had to give up our house and move into my parent’s spare room to afford my medication.

This is utterly unacceptable in the age we are living in and I ask the Leader to speak to the Minister as a matter of urgency to look at solutions to this problem.


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