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Prescriptions to rise 40pc: We need plan

Wednesday, May 07 14:14:26

With an ageing population, Ireland's doctors will write 40pc more prescriptions by 2021 and we need to plan for this, a healthcare symposium heard today.

Sandra Gannon, General Manager of Teva Pharmaceutical Ireland, Ireland's largest supplier of prescription medicines, warned that "medicine usage is no different from any other part of our healthcare system, we must have a long-term national strategy to meet future demands and to ensure Irish patients do not lose out".

Today's symposium brought together national and international experts to debate and discuss where medicine policy in Ireland now stands and to examine how we manage, meet and afford medicine needs of the Irish population in the years ahead.

The event was also attended by healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, GPs and consultants, health policymakers, healthcare economists and patients' representatives.

According to Ms. Gannon: "demands on our health services are growing so long-term planning is critical. We already know that the provision of medicines to patients is facing challenges brought about by an ageing population which is living longer and the increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes or obesity. This will place huge pressures on our current provision of medicines to patients, not least in terms of the affordability, sustainability and availability of such medicines, However, we currently do not have a long term strategy mapping how we achieve this objectives - we need to start planning for the future now".

Fellow speaker, Patrick Moore, Trinity College Health Economist and a Researcher currently working as part of the Government's TILDA Research Project, which aims to survey and predict the healthcare needs of Ireland's older population in the decades' ahead noted.

"Projecting ahead based on emerging health data, it is reasonable to expect the number of medicine prescriptions prescribed in Ireland will increase by almost 40pc (38pc) by 2021. This amounts to an increase from 76 million prescriptions per annum in 2012 to 105 million by 2021 and will present huge challenges, particularly in terms of affordability".

Adrian van den Hoven, Director General of the European Generic Medicine Association, speaking at the symposium also noted that spending on medicine will rise sharply.

"It is estimated that speciality or high-tech medicines will account for up to 50pc of national medicine expenditure across the EU by 2018. However, a pro-active move to increased use of biosimilar medicines and complex generics in European healthcare systems offers a significant opportunity for national governments to maintain the affordability and availability of medicines to patients, without compromising on patient care".

Attendees also heard calls for Government to develop and implement, following consultation with key stakeholders, a National Strategy on Medicine Usage, which will map future medicine demands for the next decade and ensure that patients' healthcare care needs are prioritised.