According to data supplied to the <strong><em>Medical Independent</em></strong> (<strong><em>MI</em></strong>) by the HSE, at the end of May the number of rejections totaled 4,939.
The total number of approvals numbered around 1,800 at the end of May and in the month of May alone, over 200 approvals were granted by the HSE. “At the end of May, there were 1,872 patients approved for continued reimbursement support under the GMS and Community Drugs Schemes for lidocaine patches. During May, the MMP [Medicines Management Programme] approved 219 applications for reimbursement support for lidocaine patches,” a spokesperson for the Executive stated.
“The total number of rejections for reimbursement support as recorded at the end of May is 4,939. The total number of appeals received to date is 1,005, of which 767 have been approved. The MMP asked for further information from prescribers for 83 appeals.”
Despite a huge outcry to the changes and a petition with more than 10,000 signatures calling for the removal of restrictions on reimbursement, the spokesperson said that only “a small number of complaints” have been received through the ‘Your Service/Your Say’ HSE complaints services.
Since last September, the HSE only readily reimburses the ‘lidocaine 5 per cent medicated plaster’ for its licensed indication following a huge jump in use and expenditure of the product.
The spokesperson explained that the majority of approvals are for neuropathic pain, which includes post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
“To assist GPs, where there is a recent history of antiviral prescriptions, the HSE was listing them as approvable in the event that a subsequent prescription was presented in the pharmacy. Therefore, precise numbers of patients approved for the licensed indication is not available at this time,” the spokesperson stated.
“Approval for other types of pain depends on the individual circumstances, which are taken into consideration when assessing individual applications. In the NCPE [National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics] analysis prior to the initiative, it was estimated that no more than 10 per cent was prescribed for the licensed indication.
“MMP are updating figures in their generality at the end of each month. This is to allow them to focus their resources on dealing with the GP appeals on behalf of patients.”