Patients Waiting Over Twice as Long for New Medicines Compared to Rest of Western Europe, Says IPHA

Posted on November, 09 - 2018

Patients in Ireland are waiting more than twice as long as patients in other western European countries for access to many vital new medicines, figures from the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) have revealed.

IPHA, the body representing the research-based pharmaceutical industry, is holding its 25th Annual Conference today [Thursday], themed ‘Patient Care, Powered By Innovation’. The event brings together some 20 speakers, panellists and workshop participants, drawn from patient advocacy, public health policy, industry and academia. Some 300 delegates and 20 speakers or panellists are attending - record numbers for the conference.

As part of a four-year deal agreed with the Government, prices for innovative medicines in Ireland are calculated at the average of the price in 14 EU countries*. IPHA analysed

the reimbursement dates in these countries for 18 products which have been reimbursed or at least discussed by the HSE Drugs Group in 2018*.

The analysis found that, for the 18 medicines, it takes, on average, 322 days for them to be reimbursed for patients in the 14 countries. But, here in Ireland, it takes 792 days. That’s two-and-a-half times slower.

IPHA called for a ‘pledge to patients’ that commits the industry and the Government to work together to deliver new treatments efficiently to the healthcare system. IPHA’s President, Aidan Lynch, who will deliver the keynote speech this evening, said the industry wants to work in partnership with the Government to deliver medical innovation to patients faster.

“As an industry, we are focused on improved patient outcomes. That means getting the right treatments to patients when they need them. This can only be done by partnering with the Government to create a healthcare system that works for patients. This should be our agreed pledge to patients: that we will, together, deliver the best medical innovation for their care,” said Mr Lynch.   

Pharmaceutical innovators have urged the Government to begin a dialogue, promised a year ago, that can lead to faster access to the best treatments for patients. Ireland is among the slowest countries in western Europe for access to innovative medicines. Some of the medicines made here are available in other European countries before our own patients can get them.

Last month, IPHA published the ‘Manifesto for Better Health’ - 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, development and delivery of life-changing treatments.

It urged that Ireland should aim to be in the top seven of the EU-28 on speed of access to innovative medicines - a goal consistent with the Government’s objective to achieve cancer outcomes in the top quartile in Europe. The ‘Manifesto’ called for a multi-annual, reasonable rise in Exchequer funding for medicines, taking account of existing levels of service, demographic trends and new treatments on the horizon.

Oliver O’Connor, IPHA CEO, said there is growing impetus for joint industry-Government cooperation to overcome the medicines access challenge.

“There is no justifiable reason, particular to Ireland, that we should so often be among the last in western Europe to bring new medicines to patients. We want to solve that problem jointly with the Government. We believe there is a shared interest in ensuring that new medicines are continuously brought to patients in a timely way across all therapy areas. That will help raise standards of healthcare to levels competitive with our European peers,” said Mr O’Connor.




*As part of the deal, prices for innovative medicines in Ireland are calculated at the average of the price in 14 EU countries - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. 

*The analysis was carried out for IPHA’s biannual oversight meeting with the Department of Health on October 25th, 2018.