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EU stands by call for Ireland to reduce drug prices Posted 14/08/2015

The European Commission (EC) is standing by its call for Ireland to reduce spending on medicines in the country, despite objections from originator companies.

A May 2015 report from the EC states that ‘the potential remains to reduce public spending on pharmaceuticals, in particular patented medicines, which is well above the EU average’.

The commission recommends that Ireland should introduce measures to ‘increase the cost-effectiveness of the healthcare system’, including reducing spending on patented medicines and by ‘gradually implementing adequate prescription practices’, which presumably means encouraging prescribing of generics.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) disputes the commission’s findings, stating that ‘following years of price reduction deals with the Department of Health, the prices of Irish patented drugs are close to the average of similar EU countries’.

The industry and the Department of Health claim to have made cumulative savings of Euros 1.5 billion on the price of all drugs since 2006 through a series of trade agreements. However, spending has remained high due to increased demand and the cost of innovative new drug treatments.

In fact, many European countries are finding it difficult to control drug expenditure on expensive new treatments, according to a report by the World Health Organization [1].

Ireland has introduced some measures to encourage use of generics. The country introduced a new bill in September 2012 to introduce a system of reference pricing and generics substitution [2]. However, penetration of generics into the Irish market is amongst the lowest in Europe, with utilization of generics in 2013 at a mere 18% of prescribed medicines [3].

Related articles
Ireland passes bill to encourage generics use

Huge differences in prescription drug prices in Ireland

Generics substitution: Ireland’s plan for reference pricing

References
1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. European countries should collaborate to reduce drug prices [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Aug 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Reports/European-countries-should-collaborate-to-reduce-drug-prices
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Cost savings from use of generic medicines in Ireland [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Aug 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/Research/Cost-savings-from-use-of-generic-medicines-in-Ireland
3. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Use of generic medicines in Ireland [www.gabionline.net]. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2015 Aug 14]. Available from: www.gabionline.net/Generics/Research/Use-of-generic-medicines-in-Ireland

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Source: EC, Irish Times

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