Two-thirds of people feel it is ‘unacceptable’ that life-changing medicines are available to patients in other countries before our own can get them, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), the organisation that represents pharmaceutical innovators in Ireland.
The results are part of a major new healthcare landscape survey by Ipsos MRBI for IPHA aimed at testing public attitudes to medical innovation and healthcare needs.
In the survey, almost two-thirds of people said it was unacceptable that innovative medicines are available in Ireland later than in most other western European countries.
Ireland is an outlier in western Europe when it comes to the availability of new treatments, often coming last among other countries, even for some medicines that are made here. In the most recent IPHA analysis of a batch of new treatments, we found that the average wait time is 792 days – two-and-a-half times slower than other western European countries.
The Ipsos MRBI survey showed that nine out of 10 people believe Irish patients should have access to the same range of medicines as other western European countries. More than four in five people believed savings delivered by the industry should be reinvested into making new medicines available to patients. Almost nine in 10 people agreed that it is important for the Government to continue supporting pharmaceutical innovation, according to the survey.
The survey showed the public expects pharmaceutical innovators to continue discovering and manufacturing new treatments, with the Government backing their efforts with the right public policy environment.
When asked to characterise their opinion of pharmaceutical companies, 44% of people said it was positive. More than half of that cohort cited innovation and human health impact as the reasons for their positive disposition towards the industry. Just 16% of people said their opinion about the industry was negative. Those who had a neutral opinion about the industry numbered 37%. The rest, 4%, said they didn’t know.
Aidan Lynch, IPHA President, said: “The survey shows there is strong public support for the timely availability of the latest medicines for Irish patients. The public expects, too, that the research-based pharmaceutical industry should work closely with the Government to create the best local conditions for the discovery, manufacture and delivery of innovative medicines. That is our focus: helping to provide the best care to patients through innovation and partnerships.”
Oliver O’Connor, IPHA CEO, said the Ipsos MRBI survey was an important gauge of perceptions about our industry which is a major driver for improved healthcare outcomes, as well as high-quality jobs.
“As an industry, we must remain focused on what we can and should deliver for patients, in partnership with the Government. This should be our pledge to patients: that we will, together, deliver the best medical innovation for their care. The survey captures the expectations of the public that the best treatments be made available here as fast as other peer countries in Europe. If we are to invest in innovation, then it follows that we should make the medicines that emerge from that process available to patients quickly. That is the premise of the ‘Manifesto for Better Health’: the link between access and innovation,” said Mr O’Connor.
In the recently published ‘Manifesto for Better Health’, the industry urged that Ireland be in the top seven countries in the EU-28 for speed of access to innovative medicines. The Government’s National Cancer Strategy aims to place Ireland in the top quartile of European countries for cancer survival in the next decade.