Press Release

Passing of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012

Dr. James Reilly, T.D. Minister for Health and Mr. Alex White T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Care in the Department of Health, today (22 May 2013) welcomed the passing of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 through both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Minister Reilly said “This legislation gives effect to the commitment in the Programme for Government that reference pricing and greater use of generics would be introduced to reduce the State’s large drug bill and the cost to individuals of their medicines. It will promote price competition and deliver lower medicine prices for both the State and patients”.

Minister White added that “The Bill permits pharmacists to substitute medicines which have been designated as interchangeable by the Irish Medicines Board. It is only where the IMB is satisfied that a medicinal product satisfies all the conditions set out in the Bill that it can do so. To further enhance patient safety, the Bill allows a prescriber to indicate on a prescription that a branded interchangeable medicinal product should, for clinical reasons, not be substituted.”

The Bill will now be referred to the President for signature and is expected to be brought into operation next month.

ENDS

Note for Editors

Currently, when a specific brand of medicine is prescribed for a patient, a pharmacist can only supply that particular brand, even when less expensive generic versions of the same medicine are available. The Bill permits pharmacists to substitute medicines which have been designated as interchangeable by the Irish Medicines Board.

A generic medicine is a medicine that is similar to an original, brand named medicine. It has the same active substances as the original medicine and is made to the same standard to make sure it is safe and effective. A generic medicine must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original medicine. Substitution will only be allowed where it is safe to do so.

Reference pricing involves the setting of a common reimbursement price, or reference price, for a group of interchangeable medicines. This is the price that the HSE will pay for products supplied to patients under the GMS and community drug schemes. Eligible patients will not face any additional costs for products priced at or below the reference price. If a patient would like to receive a particular brand that costs more than the reference price then the patient will have to pay the additional cost of that product. In cases where substitution is prohibited for clinical reasons, patients will not face any additional costs if the prescribed product costs more than the reference price.

Generic substitution coupled with reference pricing provides patients with an incentive to opt for the cheapest available product, but does not impose any unavoidable additional costs on patients.

The Bill also sets out statutory procedures governing the supply, reimbursement and pricing of medicines and other items to patients under the GMS and community drugs schemes. The Act will allow the HSE to attach conditions to the supply of certain items, provided that any restrictions are evidence-based and in the interests of patients and ensuring value for money.