Pharmaceutical innovators have issued a call to action, through the ‘Manifesto for Better Health’, to place Ireland in the top seven European countries for speed of access to innovative medicines.
The ‘Manifesto’, launched today [Thursday], is a roadmap for improving Ireland’s healthcare system by making innovative medicines available earlier to patients and positioning Ireland as a global leader in the discovery and manufacture of life-changing treatments. It recommends joint actions with Government and other stakeholders in key areas like access to medicines, innovation policy and healthcare partnerships.
The ‘Manifesto’ was launched by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) which represents the international research-based pharmaceutical industry. It is set against a backdrop of a challenging reimbursement environment for pharmaceutical innovators, with many medicines facing significant delays getting to patients through an inefficient approvals process. Data gathered by IPHA shows that Ireland remains among the slowest countries in western Europe to make innovative medicines available to patients. Some of the medicines are made in Ireland but they are available in Europe before patients here can access them.
The ‘Manifesto’ has nine recommendations, three in each Vision Pillar of ‘Access for All’, ‘Innovation Excellence’ and ‘Republic of Partnerships’, aimed at helping Ireland to raise standards of healthcare and catch the global wave of pharmaceutical innovation.
Among the recommendations in the ‘Manifesto’ are:
1. Speed access. Place Ireland in the top quartile of European countries for access to innovative medicines. This would rank Ireland in the top seven of the EU-28 and in the top half of the ‘basket of 14’ used for pricing in the industry’s deal with the Government.
2. Boost funding. Create a predictable, multi-annual budgetary framework, with sustained, reasonable annual increases in funding for innovative medicines. This needs to be explored with payers based on ‘horizon scanning’ for new medicines on the way, as well as projected demand for existing treatments.
3. Fuel innovation. The Government, with the support of the Taoiseach, should publicly recognise the value of the pharmaceutical industry to Ireland, with concrete actions that can be pursued jointly by a formal partnership between policymakers and industry leaders. As a first step, a Chief Innovation Officer should be appointed at the Department of Health to plan how Ireland pursues new cures like gene therapy and cell therapy, and leverages data for personalised medicine.
Data gathered by IPHA for the most recent quarterly bulletin, published in August, showed that 10 IPHA medicines, evaluated through the Health Technology Assessment process, were available, on average, in 12 of 14 EU countries but they were not routinely available and reimbursed for Irish patients. These 14 countries are used as a benchmark for calculating prices. Since August, progress has been made on approving some of these medicines but the overall pattern shows that Ireland still trails peer countries in western Europe on access.
The ‘Manifesto’ calls out the short and long-term consequences of this scenario: the impact on mortality rates and, conversely, survival rates relative to European standards, as well as quality of life, will be negative. The ‘Manifesto’ warns that, economically, there could be negative implications for Ireland, with timely access to medicines increasingly used as a criterion for decisions on major new investments.
Aidan Lynch, the newly elected President of IPHA and the General Manager at GSK, said the ‘Manifesto’ sets out a partnership approach to linking the innovation needed to discover and manufacture medicines with the delivery mechanism required to get them efficiently to patients.
“The international research-based pharmaceutical industry has a major stake in Ireland’s future. The medicines we make, jobs we provide, and lives we enhance are helping to transform Ireland’s society and economy for the better. As an industry, we do not claim to have all the answers. However, we are calling for a new era of partnership between industry and Government that speeds access to innovative medicines for patients, and recognises the pivotal role of innovation in building a better healthcare system for Ireland.
“Market access remains a challenge. Medicines, some of them manufactured here, are getting to patients in other European countries before they are available to patients here. Irish patients deserve access to new innovative medicines at speeds at least comparable to our western European peers. We are benchmarked against 14 EU countries on pricing. It is reasonable to expect that our timelines for reimbursement are at least as good as those same 14 countries,” said Mr Lynch.
Ireland hosts all the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Over the past 10 years, the industry has invested close to €10 billion in manufacturing and research sites around the country. In 1988, just 5,200 people worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Today, foreign-owned pharmaceutical companies directly employ 30,000 people, with about as many more working in spin-off jobs.
Oliver O’Connor, the Chief Executive of IPHA, said the ‘Manifesto’ makes a strong case for industry-Government partnership in creating social and economic value for Ireland through the adoption of innovative medicines.
“To improve healthcare, our industry and the Government must work together in common purpose. We hope this ‘Manifesto’ can help create the backdrop for long-promised dialogue with the Government that can yield solutions for the funding and access challenges. Our industry, in framing the recommendations in the ‘Manifesto’, was conscious of certain trends. The population is growing, ageing and changing, enlarging the role of innovation in meeting current and future medical need. Our industry, working with patients, clinicians and the Government, has a major stake in contributing to strategic national priorities,” said Mr O’Connor.
Stakeholders in pharmaceuticals, higher education, medical technology and research added their support for the Manifesto’s broad approach to creating an environment in which bio-innovation is catalysed and converted into strong patient outcomes.
Matt Moran, Director of BioPharmaChemIreland, said: “The enterprise policy environment, created by the Government and invested in by industry, has allowed Ireland to attract investments of scale across many sectors, including in pharmaceuticals. By maintaining and improving the policy environment, our industry is confident Ireland can continue to attract investments that create sustainable, high-quality jobs, strengthen our manufacturing base, and prompt the development of advanced therapies.”
Pat O’Mahony, Chief Executive of Clinical Research Development Ireland, said: “Clinical Research Development Ireland aims to help accelerate the translation of biomedical research into improved diagnostics, therapies and devices for patients. Adequate resourcing of clinical research in Ireland is essential and we are fully aligned with IPHA’s position on this. A supportive innovation policy environment and working together across the sector is important to make innovation work for patients in developing the latest treatments to enhance healthcare outcomes.”
Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association, said: “Many of our universities are working closely with the pharmaceutical industry on research projects that yield new treatments for complex medical conditions. It is important that all stakeholders across the private and public sectors work together to enhance Ireland’s innovation environment so that collective efforts in medical discovery benefit patients, as well as creating new avenues for jobs and economic growth.”
Justin Carty, Chief Executive of the Irish Medical and Surgical Trade Association, said: “Ireland’s life sciences sector, including medical technology, depends on innovation for the development of new therapies. It is critical that Ireland develops new pathways for enhanced innovation so that healthcare can continue to be transformed through earlier disease detection, less invasive procedures and more effective treatments.”
The document, ‘Manifesto for Better Health’, is available here Manifesto
Notes for Editors
IPHA is the representative organisation of the international research-based pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. Our members discover and develop innovative medicines for treating or curing medical conditions and diseases, improving patients’ quality of life and their life expectancy.