Press Release

Minister Reilly and Minister White welcome ESRI report Pharmaceutical Prices, Prescribing Practices and Usage of Generics in a Comparative Context

The Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and Minister of State Mr Alex White today (Thursday 27th June) welcomed the publication of the ESRI report Pharmaceutical Prices, Prescribing Practices and Usage of Generics in a Comparative Context.

Commenting on the findings of the report, which showed that prices for originator in patent medicines and generic medicines are higher in Ireland compared to other EU Member States, Minister Reilly said ”I am confident that the steps we have taken and are currently taking will have a significant impact on the cost of medicines in this country. The State has introduced a series of reforms in recent years to reduce pharmaceutical prices and expenditure and this programme of reform is ongoing. Price reductions of the order of 30% per item reimbursed have been achieved between 2009 and 2013; the average cost per item reimbursed is now running at 2001/2002 levels”.

Minister White said “the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013 which came into operation last Monday will further promote price competition, a greater use of generics and deliver lower medicine prices for the taxpayer and for patients. Under this legislation reference pricing will be introduced later this year which will ensure that generic prices will fall towards European norms. I believe this legislation will allow us to achieve significant cost reductions on generic medicines compared to market leaders. The HSE’s Preferred Medicines Initiative alone has the potential to save money for the cash-paying patient and an estimated €15million for the taxpayer.”

Responding to the finding in the ESRI report on prescribing practices, Minister Reilly called on General Practitioners to be conscious of the cost of medicines when prescribing for their patients. The Minister said “while I am not for one minute telling Doctors how to prescribe for their patients, I would ask them to consider doing so in a more cost effective way, such as by prescribing generically, where appropriate, including the international non-proprietary name (INN) on prescriptions. This will achieve the same result for patients. The net result of this change in practice will be a greater saving to the State, allowing for greater spending in other areas of Health, and a saving in the pockets of patients. I would also encourage patients to engage with their pharmacists to ensure they are getting the best value for money when purchasing medicines. In this regard an information and education campaign, aimed at both health professionals and the public, will be launched to coincide with the introduction of generic substitution and reference pricing”.