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Ireland passes bill to encourage generics use Posted 31/05/2013

On 22 May 2013, the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament).

The Bill aims to encourage the use of generics by establishing a list of groups of drugs which may be substituted for each other in order to enable savings to be made for patients and the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE). The Bill also aims to establish mechanisms to set the prices of such drugs via introduction of a reference pricing system.

At present, pharmacists in Ireland may not substitute a generic for a brand-name medicine, if a specific brand-name drug is prescribed for a patient, even if a lower cost generic drug is available.

Minister for Health Dr James 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 for Health Mr Alex White added that ‘the Bill permits pharmacists to substitute medicines which have been designated as interchangeable by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB). 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.’

Eligible patients will not face any additional costs for medicines priced at or below the reference price. If a patient wants to have a particular brand-name drug that costs more than the reference price then the patient will have to pay the additional cost of that product.

The Bill will now be referred to the Irish President for signature and is expected to come into effect in June 2013.

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Source: DOH, Oireachtas

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