Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has again called on the government to provide an estimate for how much the State-indemnification of pharmaceutical companies providing vaccines against Covid-19 could cost the State.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Tóibín said:

“I’m concerned about the fact that the State intends to indemnify the private companies providing vaccines for Covid-19. I’m concerned for three reasons. First of all there has been no political discussion or debate about the issue. When a government indemnifies a private company it takes away the economic imperative from that company to ensure that the product is 100% safe. By indemnifying a private company the State leaves itself exposed to millions of euros of costs resulting from lawsuits”.

Deputy Tóibín continued: “Today in the Dáil I asked the Taoiseach to provide an estimate for how much potential costs could arise for the State following this decision. He confirmed to me that the government have indemnifed the companies because it is part of the European Pre-purchase Agreement. The Taoiseach, in his reply to me, seemed to suggest that without the agreement of member states to commit to indemnifying the companies, then we would not get access to this vaccine. We need confirmation if this indeed is the case. Has the vaccine been refused to Ireland without indemnification? I can understand a potential price differentiation in such a circumstance.

Why would a private company refuse to indemnify its own product but to reduce financial risk to them. These pharmaceutical companies stand to make hundreds of millions of euro of profit but will be but will be immune to any potential legal proceedings or claims”. The government is by definition taking on this risk on..

“This matter warrants serious debate in the house. We should learn lessons – we know the Minister for Health intends on launching an inquiry into the epilepsy drug which may result in hundreds of compensation payouts. Will the Taoiseach remarks in his response to me today come back to haunt him in the future. This a very serious decision and one in which the people of Ireland should know the potential cost concluded Tóibín.