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Less than 50 per cent of the value of medicines reimbursed in the HSE Community Drugs Schemes is patent-protected, a fact that has been verified through independent analysis conducted by IMS Health.
Dr Burke claimed, based on HSE figures, that this proportion is actually 78 per cent. However, IPHA understands from its discussions with the HSE that this 78 per cent figure includes both patent-protected medicines and off-patent medicines which have a single supplier. Those products are open to competition at any time, unlike patent-protected medicines.
This matters because there are specific provisions for price cuts in the IPHA agreement in relation to off-patent products as soon as a competitor product is available to the HSE.
Separately, Dr Burke stated that HSE figures prepared for the Troika show that just over €1 billion was saved through deals with IPHA and APMI, as if our estimates of savings were exaggerated.
We stand over our calculations of savings of €800 million from 2006-2012 and €400 million from the current agreement 2012-2015. Perhaps there are different ways of measuring and different time periods, but the Minister for Health’s recent analyses support a view of very substantial savings from industry, which we have not sought to over-state.
Last July, the Minister for Health made his Department’s submission to the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE). In an analysis of savings delivered under the IPHA and APMI agreements, the document states: “The total or cumulative savings from all measures introduced since 2006 is in excess of €1.5 billion.” Most of these can be attributed to the industry agreements, since generic substitution/reference pricing only started late in 2013.
Minister Varadkar has also clearly put on the public record the savings delivered by the current IPHA agreement. In response to a parliamentary question in February 2015, on the cost of medicines and in reference to the IPHA agreement, he said: “The gross savings arising from this deal will be in excess of €400 million over three years”.
IPHA members have made very significant contributions to savings and to dealing with Ireland’s fiscal challenges. As the economy now recovers, we will advocate for value-based investment in health and innovative medicines.
Mr Philip Hannon,
Communications and Public Affairs Manager, IPHA.
Dr Sara Burke is a health economist and Research Fellow at TCD. In response to IPHA’s letter, she wholeheartedly stands over her figures and the points she made in her recent article, ‘The facts speak for themselves’. She adds that her assessment is based on the only figures in the public domain, rather than those gathered privately by IMS.