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27th Jan 2023

Irish women call for access to drug to treat Hyperemesis during pregnancy

Sarah McKenna Barry

The current approach has been described as “cruel” and “illogical”.

Pregnant Irish women on social media are calling on the Irish government to make Cariban, a drug used to treat Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe vomiting and nausea during pregnancy) more accessible in Ireland.

It was announced last year that from January 2023, women would be able to receive the drug for free, however, the costs can only be reimbursed if the drug is prescribed via a consultant obstetrician.

Without reimbursement, the drug can cost up to €3,000 throughout pregnancy.

Across social media, women in Ireland are calling for this to change, with many pointing to the fact that women typically only see a consultant obstetrician during their second trimester.

Highlighting the issue on Instagram, Laura Dowling (@fabulouspharmacist), also pointed to the fact that the consultant then has to fill out a manual form, which costs “their time, the hospital’s time and the patient’s time”.


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A post shared by Laura Dowling (@fabulouspharmacist)

“This drug should be available to all women who need it,” she said. “It should be available to be initiated via their GP, and they’re shouldn’t be any paperwork.”

Elsewhere on social media, pregnant women have been documenting their experience with Hyperemesis.

Sharing a video, Sabrina Hill said that her reality is dealing with “severe vomiting” that often results in producing blood, and at times, hospital visits.


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A post shared by Sabrina Hill (@sabrina.hill_)

She wrote: “I’ve spent hundreds of euros on this medication in a short few months and I’m one of the lucky ones that can afford it as since I’ve spoken about it many women have messaged me saying they didn’t have the money to pay for the monthly prescriptions and had to suffer severely.”

Hyperemesis Ireland issued a statement last November, calling for more to be done to make the drug more accessible throughout pregnancy.

The group highlighted how the drug has been tested for safety, with the HSE recommending it as the first line of treatment for treating nausea and vomiting and Hyperemesis. They also pointed to research which suggests that the anti-emetics are more effective when administrated early.

They write: “As a first line treatment it is essential that patients can access this medication through their primary access point to the health system, their GP. Consultant-led obstetric care is not required to diagnose and treat NVP and HG with first line treatments. This approach would simultaneously undermine the role of GPs in early pregnancy while unnecessarily adding to the workloads of hospitals and consultant obstetricians.

“Under the current proposals, many pregnant people and their families will suffer needlessly so their prescription is eligible for reimbursement. This is cruel.”

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