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Plan for drug reimbursement changes nearing completion 

By David Lynch - 30th Mar 2024

drug reimbursement

An implementation plan for changes to the HSE’s drug reimbursement process is almost complete and will be submitted to the Minister for Health in the near future, the Medical Independent (MI) has been told.

Early last year, Minister Stephen Donnelly published a report, prepared by Mazars, that examined the governance arrangements for the HSE’s drug reimbursement process. At the time, the Department of Health said an implementation working group would be established by the Department and the HSE to work on a plan to roll-out the report’s recommendations.

According to the Department, the Mazars report found that the HSE process is operating in line with the legislation and that “it is delivering results in keeping with international norms”.

However, the report concluded there was scope for improvements in a number of areas, including: Transparency of the reimbursement process; communications with and the availability of information to patients; and tracking the progression of medicines through the process.

The report was discussed at a meeting of the HSE drugs group in August 2023. According to minutes, officials from the Department were in attendance to discuss the Mazars report. At the group’s meeting in December, members were informed that a “draft” implementation plan had been completed and was expected to be published in 2024.

The Department spokesperson told MI that the implementation working group held regular meetings in 2023 and two rounds of “targeted stakeholder engagement”.

The spokesperson added that the working group’s report has been drafted and will “soon be finalised” and submitted to the Minister.

“The working group’s report has been drafted and stakeholders have been given the opportunity to provide their views on this draft. All perspectives have now been considered.”

The spokesperson added that funding of €30 million will be made available for new drugs this year. Of this funding, €20 million will be provided directly. The Minister has also instructed the HSE to identify and realise at least €10 million of efficiencies.

“Once achieved, these savings can be considered for reinvestment in new drugs,” the spokesperson said.

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