Of the 12,365 patients in Ireland with hepatitis C, 350 need urgent treatment.
“This group cannot medically tolerate the currently available interferon-based therapies, due to severe liver damage, which increases their risk of death if subjected to these treatments,” said the IHS in a statement. “The 350 people affected require treatments that are not based on interferon, which involves a combination of two drugs.”
The once-off treatment costs about €45,000.
IHS chief executive Brian O’Mahony said immediate action is needed.
“Those who are now living with advanced liver disease as a result of hepatitis C deserve a chance to live and we call on the minister of health and the HSE to agree, without further delay, to an early-access programme which would save lives and save money.”
An expert group, chaired by Dr Deirdre Mulholland of the Department of Health and Children, is examining the new treatment options.