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Medicine Pricing Agreements a boost for patients and good news for Irish Pharma Sector – Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD, has said two new agreements on the supply and price of medicines are very good news for the Irish pharmaceutical sector which employs thousands of people.

The two multi-annual agreements signed this week on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines should help to cut the cost of medicines in Ireland and also improve access to new medicines.

The Tánaiste said:

“Ireland is home to so many innovative pharmaceutical companies which employ thousands of people who research, develop, market and manufacture new medicines. They also make a huge contribution to the State through the corporate and payroll taxes they pay,” 

“Given our position as a leading country in life sciences, I have always felt that we should be among the first countries to approve new medicines for re-imbursement. As a doctor and a politician, I have found it hard to explain why so many medicines are more expensive in Ireland than in peer countries and why many new medicines are available to patients in England or Scotland but not here. I think this new agreement goes a long way to improving this situation. Medicine costs will be reduced for patients and new innovative medicines approved more quickly.”

The agreements are between the Department of Health and: 

  • the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, which represents the biopharmaceutical industry,
  • and with Medicines For Ireland, which represents the generic and biosimilar medicines industry in Ireland.

The new deals are expected to produce:  

  • Improved access for patients to new and innovative medicines; 
  • Reductions in the cost of existing medicines;
  • An easing of financial pressures on the health service.

The agreements should bring stability to the medicines reimbursement market for the State and for Industry. Negotiations with the industry began in May, against a backdrop of a growing annual drugs budget, which rose from €1.95 billion in 2016 to almost €2.25 billion by 2020.

As a result of these Agreements, the HSE should be in a much stronger position to meet the increasing demand for existing medicines and also to invest in new medicines over the next four years.

It also matches the Government’s policy of providing timely access to new and innovative medicines to all patients. The €50 million provided for new medicines in 2021 has already had a significant impact on the ability of the HSE to reimburse essential drugs for patients. Over 40 new medicines have been approved to date this year, helping people with conditions such as Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Cystic Fibrosis.

A further €30 million was allocated in Budget 2022 will have a further significant impact on the availability of new and innovative medicines, including for the treatment of rare diseases.