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Preparations continue for Government and pharma talks despite Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has not yet led to a delay in the upcoming talks on a new framework agreement for medicines between the State and the pharmaceutical industry, this newspaper has been told.

“The four-year Framework Agreement on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines was signed in July 2016 between the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and is not due to expire until 31 July,” a Department spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) on Wednesday 15 April.

When asked whether the Covid-19 pandemic risked delaying the talks, the spokesperson said “preparations are underway for the commencement of negotiations on a new framework agreement with industry.”

A spokesperson for the IPHA told MI that “there is no date yet on the planned commencement of negotiations”.

The framework negotiations will not include discussion regarding any future Covid-19 vaccine as the Department spokesperson noted that “in accordance with the definitions included in Clause 1, subsection 2 of the Framework Agreement, the definition of ‘medicines’  for the purposes of the agreement specifically excludes blood products, vaccines, and non-reimbursable non-prescription products”.

Separately a spokesperson for the Department told MI that the Irish Government  “is strongly supportive of equitable access to medicines, vaccines and diagnostics, including in relation to Covid-19.”

“The EU and its member states including Ireland are pursuing innovative approaches to combating the Covid-19 pandemic, including coordinated research and development effort, through the WHO and in partnership with other WHO member states and international organisations.”

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