The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) has defended the industry against a charge of ‘predatory’ pricing by the National Centre for Pharmoeconomics (NCPE).
The NCPE is the State body that advises the Health Service Executive on the cost-effectiveness of medicines.
IPHA said the claim, made during a radio interview this week, amounted to an “accusation of illegality against the industry”.
Oliver O’Connor, CEO of IPHA, said: “It is not acceptable for the NCPE, a State agency, to level an accusation of that import against our industry, especially when it is without foundation. The State knows the significance of our industry – 30,000 jobs, enormous investment in manufacturing and research, and a positive impact on healthcare outcomes for patients with serious illnesses. We have worked closely with the State on Brexit preparations, acknowledged by the Tánaiste just last week. And, yet, the NCPE, another arm of the State, is accusing the industry of illegality. Apart from the claim having no foundation, it is irresponsible.”
Ireland has a serious and sustained problem with access to new medicines. Patients here are among the last in western Europe to get the benefits of innovative treatments. The delay is not due to the price of medicines in Ireland – all countries in western Europe assess, negotiate and agree prices similar to what is offered here.
“There is no justification for denying access to some innovative medicines for patients in Ireland when their western European peers can get them, especially when prices here are no higher than the average of the ‘basket of 14’ in other reference countries. At the same time, our industry is investing billions globally on the development of new medicines.
“We have urged policymakers to set a simple policy goal: to place Ireland in the top seven countries in the EU28 for speed of access to new medicines. Without laying down a marker like this, nothing will really change. We believe a better way can be found, with industry and Government working together towards a specific goal to drive change. We have a lot of catching up to do. This is urgent,” said Mr O‘Connor.