Statement from the President of IPHA, David Gallagher in response to Dáil commentary on medicines

Statement from the President of IPHA, David Gallagher in response to Dáil commentary on medicines

The IPHA rejects remarks made in the Dail yesterday in relation to medicine availability, cost and access.

In relation to new medicines, there is already a process in place by the Department of Health for evaluating new medicines and whether they should be reimbursed. However, since late last year, this process has been ignored and medicines that are licensed, and then recommended as cost-effective, are not being made available.  This has given rise to an inequitable situation where some illnesses and some patient groups are being prioritised above others. All patients, and their health needs, should be treated fairly.  We support evaluating the safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of medicines but we are concerned that, as referenced in the Dáil, the Department of Health is looking at a new process without consulting any industry group and this is likely to result in further delays in providing advanced medicines to patients. 

Secondly, we understand the budgetary constraints facing the government and the Department of Health.  We have a strong track record in delivering savings on medicines price - €600 million has been provided in recent years.  Furthermore, the industry acknowledges that additional savings are required and is prepared to negotiate so as to ensure new medicines can be made available.

We are also concerned that the proposed Health Bill appears to reach far beyond details of generic reference pricing and substitution and seems to extend more generally to the provision of medicines.  We believe in- depth consultation with industry is critical to ensure there is no further hindrance to patient access to advanced therapies. 

The prices charged by pharmaceutical companies for medicines in Ireland is broadly in-line with prices charged across Europe and are set with reference to other European markets.  There are differences in costs in Ireland to the state and the public, but this is not as a result of the prices set by pharmaceutical companies.  Similar to the Department of Health, we want to ensure the supply of medicines is sustainable.  In reference to the major rise in medicines costs – the last decade saw a significant increase in all healthcare spending coming off a period of cutbacks in the 1980s.  In relation to increasing medicine expenditure, there are many factors underlying this such as an expanding population, an ageing population and most significantly – major health improvements where illnesses and diseases that were under-diagnosed are now better managed, resulting in better health and reductions in illness and deaths.  Expenditure on medicines has fallen in 2010 and 2011 as a direct result of savings delivered by pharmaceutical companies to the state and is forecast to fall further in 2012 even with increasing consumption.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

About IPHA

The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) represents the international research-based pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. Its members include both manufacturers of prescription medicines and non-prescription or consumer health care medicines as well as companies that supply vaccines given to the Irish population.

Today people in Ireland live longer, healthier and more active lives, in part, due to medical progress and pharmaceutical and vaccines research and development. Not only is the pharmaceutical industry critical to the health of the nation, it plays a critical and substantial role in the Irish economy.

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