The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) has commented on the Minister for Health’s plan to seek Cabinet approval for Ireland to join an international medicines alliance called the BeNeLuxA initiative, highlighting the association’s willingness to work with initiatives that truly speed up the slow and late access to new medicines for Irish patients.
Chief Executive, Oliver O’Connor said: “IPHA members work hard to bring new medicines to patients as fast as possible in Ireland. Yet we confront a process that lacks transparency and is slow and late relative to Europe. Last year we saw inordinate delays while decisions were analysed by the HSE, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. New medicines are still held up in the maze. Patients deserve better.
“We would welcome voluntary participation by companies in any cross-country initiatives that will truly speed up access for patients relative to European peers. This cannot involve duplication of the process in Ireland. In the meantime, the current medicines under consideration must be decided promptly. We cannot wait while complex new cross-country initiatives are worked out.
He concluded by criticising Ireland’s processes for reimbursement approval: “Finally, the reason why Ireland lags last Western Europe is bringing new medicines to patients is not pricing. Other countries with similar prices manage to approve new medicines for reimbursement for patients much faster. Under our 2016 Agreement with the State, prices are already the average of 14 other countries and are reduced each year. And spending per capita is very close to the average of Western Europe. Yet Ireland has been among the slowest in getting new medicines approved for reimbursement. Ireland’s own processes need improvement and a reasonable, adequate level of sustained funding for new medicines must be put in place to add to the savings of €785m over four years we are providing under the Agreement”.