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Irish health system will pay for Vertex drug

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Friday that Ireland’s national health care system has agreed to pay for Kalydeco, a Vertex drug designed to treat some patients suffering from cystic fibrosis, a rare and often fatal genetic disease.

In a press release, Cambridge-based Vertex said that the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland will fund Kalydeco for people 6 and older who have a specific mutation of the cystic fibrosis gene.

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Several other national health services in Europe have taken a similar step, including those in Germany, France, and England, Vertex said. Vertex received regulatory approval to market Kalydeco in the United States in January 2012. European regulators gave the drug their approval a few months later.

In the United States, it costs about $300,000 a year to treat a patient with Kalydeco, Vertex said.

Kalydeco targets the defective protein that causes cystic fibrosis and is the first medicine to treat the disease’s underlying causes, Vertex said.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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