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Minister promises ‘major savings’ in new drugs price deal

Minister Simon Harris said the deal will save an estimated €600 million, plus additional savings from non-IPHA companies

“The pricing provisions in this agreement represent a significant improvement on those contained in the previous agreement,” said Minister Harris.

“They will see an expansion of the reference basket used to set prices in Ireland from the present nine to 14 countries, including for the first time Greece, Italy and Portugal.

“The agreement also includes, for the first time, an annual price realignment to ensure that the prices of medicines in Ireland reduce in line with price changes across the reference countries.

“A rebate of 5.25 per cent rising to 5.5 per cent will further reduce the overall cost of medicines in the years ahead.”

However, aspects of the deal have been criticised by the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance (HEA).

“The inclusion of an artificial pricing clause that blocks better value biosimilar medicines entering the market is profoundly disappointing,” said Ms Sandra Gannon, HEA President.

“It leaves Ireland alone in Europe and indeed one of the only countries in the world preventing competition in this part of the medicines market.”

However at a press conference at government buildings earlier today, Minister Harris insisted Ireland is open for business for biosimilar companies.

“I want to send a very clear message to biosimilar companies that this country is very much open for business to biosimilars,” the Minister said in reply to a question from the Medical Independent at the conference.

“In fact we are actively developing in the Department of Health a policy in relation to how we can see greater use of biosimilars. I am considering legislation in this regard as well. So Ireland is absolutely open for business for biosimilars.”

Dr Leisha Daly, President of IPHA, who led its delegation during negotiations, said: “It is essential that patients have early access to life- saving and life-enhancing new medicines. This Agreement is the best way to make that happen. It offers a clear process and sustainable pricing so that new medicines can be made available quickly to patients in Ireland. With this Agreement in place, patients and their doctors can rightly expect that priority will be given to funding innovative, new medicines in the health services.”

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