It was announced today that a new national healthcare organisation, Medicines for Ireland, has launched and is calling for a fundamental reform of medicine policy in Ireland.
The group has warned that without critical reforms and a long-term strategy for medicine procurement Irish patients will face increasing difficulty in accessing and affording life-saving medicines.
Medicines for Ireland is a grouping of key medicine suppliers including some of the largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE. The new organisation is a coming together of the memberships of Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association. Its members include Accord Healthcare, Consilient Healthcare, Clonmel Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan, Pinewood Healthcare, Rowa Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Recent research has shown that usage of generic medicines has grown from 11% to 53% over the last four years, with the State achieving hundreds of million in savings as a result. The new organisation is committed to continuing this reform momentum.
Medicine for Ireland’s focus will include the development of a longer-term vision for medicine procurement. The organisation hopes to introduce measures to urgently tackle the growing problem of medicine shortages (with currently over 140 medicines unavailable).
Furthermore, it hopes to create proactive initiatives to create greater competition in the medicines market, particularly hospital medicines where spend has grown from €315 million in 2009 to over €600 million in 2016.
The roll-out of a National Biosimilars Policy which expands the usage of biosimilar medicines, to counterbalance the unsustainable cost of biologic medicines is also planned. Medicines for Ireland is currently finalising a comprehensive policy document which will examine the critical issues facing medicine supply in Ireland and will publish its proposals in the coming weeks.
Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland, Sandra Gannon said, "Medicines for Ireland’s launch is a significant development. It marks the coming together of the leading players in the supply of medicines in Ireland. We are driven by and share the common objective of improving the supply, accessibility and affordability of medicines for Irish patients. To do so, we need significant reform."
She added, "Medicines now play a key part in helping Irish people live better and for much longer than ever before. With the growing importance of medicines, the issue of ensuring that Irish patients can access the treatments they need and the State can continue to pay for these medicines is crucial."