Address for Minister Alex White – Symposium for Senior Pharmaceutical Policy Makers – Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Opening Address by Minister White: 8.30am


  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome you this morning at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland for the launch of this Symposium for international Pharmaceutical Policy Makers. It has been organised by the Irish Ministry for Health as a follow-up to the Health Ministers’ Summit which took place in Amsterdam in October 2012. That Summit examined the benefits of responsible use of medicines. At this Symposium today, we will build on this theme to discuss how to achieve responsible use of medicines.
  • We are delighted that participants from Africa, Australia, Asia, North and South America as well as Europe have travelled to attend here today. While I had the pleasure of meeting many of you last evening for our Networking Event, I am aware that some of you were not able to be with us. I wish to extend a special welcome to you and to say how pleased we are that you are here. As I said last evening, whether or not this is your first visit to Dublin or indeed to Ireland, we certainly hope that it will not be your last. I realise that in my few remarks yesterday, I only mentioned what you would find if you turned left up the street on leaving this building, that is the Irish Houses of Parliament as well as the National Library and National Museum of Archaeology & History. If you turn right, you will find yourself looking at the railings to Trinity College Dublin. It houses, amongst other treasures, the Old Library and the famous Book of Kells, an illuminated gospel manuscript created by Celtic monks in the 9th Century. It is also my alma mater so I feel compelled to make reference to it.
  • To recap slightly for those not with us yesterday, we are now in one of Dublin’s most historic buildings. In 1654, Dr John Stearne founded the Fraternity of Physicians to improve the practice of medicine in Ireland. Thirteen years later, in 1667, King Charles II of England granted the Fraternity of Physicians a Royal Charter to establish a Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI). The RCPI has been operating ever since, moving to these premises in1864. This particular room is named the Corrigan Hall, in tribute to Sir Dominic Corrigan, an eminent physician in 19th Century Dublin. He was also a man who recognised the vital role of the pharmacy profession and was a key figure in the successful campaign for legislation governing the practice of pharmacy and regulating the pharmaceutical profession in Ireland. It therefore seems apt to be hosting this conference here today.

Overview of the Symposium

  • As you know, the intention of last evening’s event was to give you the opportunity to renew connections and meet new colleagues from other countries with similar roles and interests in pharmaceutical policy within Government. Today’s programme has been specifically formulated to facilitate the making of connections with representatives from other countries interested in the same issues. It will also allow you more opportunities for informal networking over lunch and coffee breaks. However, today’s timetable is tight and much work is to be done.
  • So, why are we all here? I believe it is because, simply put, we are all interested in getting the right medicines to the right patient at the right time. Simple to say, but not simple to achieve. The challenges inherent in ensuring that the right patient gets the right medicine at the right time are manifold, and are relevant to all countries, whether they are low, middle or high income countries. In many countries, operating a robust infrastructure for the medicines supply chain presents a challenge in getting the right medicine to the right patient at the right time. In other countries, the challenge is manifest in securing continued and ongoing supply of medicines for patients in their health systems.
  • The challenge of securing the right medicine for the right patient is also augmented by a range of global health challenges, such as managing infectious diseases, the escalating rates of chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes, the fact that in most countries people are living healthier for longer and expect more from their health services; an increase in the volume of medicines used; and requirements for new and innovative medicines to treat previously untreatable conditions. These challenges all have to be met by countries within finite healthcare budgets. Within those challenges, initiatives to achieve responsible use of medicines can play an important role in helping to ensure that our patients get the right medicine at the right time. As you heard me say last evening, Ministries of Health, health systems, healthcare providers, healthcare professionals and patients all must play their part in enhancing the responsible use of medicines within our health systems. As senior officials within governments and health systems, you have an important role to play within pharmaceutical policy in your country to achieve these goals.
  • Much thought has gone into designing today’s Programme so that this opportunity in bringing together key pharmaceutical policy makers from around the world to examine this important theme is maximised. We are delighted that so many eminent international speakers, facilitators and delegates accepted this invitation to share their experiences and views on achieving responsible use of medicines. We hope that the workshop and plenary sessions will lend themselves to an open and frank exchange of ideas.
  • It is our intention to prepare a report on the topics discussed today, which will be forwarded to you in due course. In addition, I know that many of you are attending the International Pharmacy Federation (FIP) Conference in the Convention Centre here in Dublin, beginning on Sunday. One of the sessions at FIP will involve a presentation on today’s Symposium, to be presented by Leonie Clarke the Project Manager of this Symposium. We wish FIP a successful conference.


  • In conclusion, I trust that you will enjoy today’s meeting. Especially, I hope that you will find today interesting, informative and challenging, and perhaps even motivating.
  • I wish you all the best of luck with your work today. Many thanks for your attention this morning.