'It'll be better for patients': Generic drugs firms want a new price deal with the HSE

A GROUP OF some of the biggest generic drug makers in Ireland are pushing for the HSE to change the way it decides how much to pay for medicines.

Right now, branded and generic drugs manufacturers negotiate separate deals with the HSE. A newly-launched campaign group, Medicines for Ireland, said that the HSE should negotiate one deal with the industry as a whole.

It said that this would result in more competition between drug makers, and would make medicine cheaper for the state and for patients.

Medicines for Ireland published its policy manifesto today, in which it called for several reforms of the current system of medicine supply.

The group is made up of several of the largest generic drugs manufacturers operating in Ireland, including the likes of Mylan, Teva Pharma and Clonmel Healthcare.

Generic medicines are copies of branded medicines developed by drug companies. When the patent for a branded medicine expires, other companies can then make generic copies.

Separate

Medicines for Ireland’s new manifesto has six core proposals, one of which was to set up a new Medicine Pricing Agreement, “between the Department of Health and pharmaceutical industry”.

“(This would end) the existing situation where only part of the industry participates in these negotiations,” it said.

At the moment, the HSE does its drug price negotiations for branded medicines with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), which represents multinational companies operating in Ireland that make branded, on-patent drugs.

Generics companies have had separate agreements with the HSE.

However, Medicine in Ireland in Ireland said that the HSE should agree one pricing decision with the industry as a whole.

The group said that many of its members make both patented and generic medication, and argued it doesn’t make sense to negotiate two separate agreements.

Cost

Medicine in Ireland said that this would make pricing agreements simpler and more competitive, resulting in savings for the HSE and the consumer.

“(One deal) would be better for consumers and patients,” a spokeswoman for the group said.

A spokesman for the IPHA disagreed, saying that generic and branded drugs manufacturers were very different and should each have their own agreements with the HSE.

“Branded products are very different. We’re the companies that invest in the development of medicines. It costs billions to do, and most end up in failure,” the IPHA spokesmand told Fora.

“Our companies invest billions to bring products to market, and when they get approved they charge a certain amount, but they have to. Generic (manufacturers) don’t have to bear the burdens of research and development.”

Last year, the HSE reached a new deal with the IPHA, which it was said would deliver savings of hundreds of millions of euros.

The agreement was criticised by generics companies, which said that it “blocked” cheaper medicines from entering the market.

https://fora.ie/generic-drug-cost-ireland-3482208-Jul2017/


Medicines for Ireland manifesto calls for ‘radical overhaul’ of medicines policy

A National Medicines Strategy for Ireland providing a long-term roadmap for how Ireland procures, supplies and affords medicines for Irish patients, is one of the key proposals contained in Medicines for Ireland’s policy manifesto published today.

Medicines for Ireland is a recently launched grouping of medicine suppliers, including some of the largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE.

The group says it has come together to push for “radical reform” of the current system of medicine supply, against a backdrop of growing difficulties experienced by Irish patients in affording and accessing life-savings medicines.

Medicines for Ireland’s manifesto has six core proposals, which it says are critical to ensuring a properly functioning market and to safeguarding patients.

These are a National Medicine Strategy which sets out a long-term plan for medicine usage and supply in Ireland; establishment of new National Medicines Office to implement this strategy and oversee the €2 billion annual medicine spend; a new Medicine Pricing Agreement, which sets medicine prices, between the Department of Health and pharmaceutical industry - ending the existing situation where only part of the industry participates in these negotiations; a Biosimilar Strategy, driven by the HSE, to kick-start switching to more affordable but equally effective biosimilar medicines. This has the potential to unlock hundreds of millions in savings in the years ahead; driving competition in the medicines market through dynamic pricing schemes, particularly for high-volume medicines; and measures to tackle the growing problem of medicine shortages (currently over 140 medicines out of stock, according to the group).

Speaking on the launch of the manifesto, Ms Sandra Gannon, Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland and General Manager of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland said: “Reform is vital to safeguard patients. We spend over €2 billion each year on medicines yet we have no long-term vision for how we spend this money or on what. We need to think more strategically and treat the procurement and supply of medicines like other long-term issues, particularly with agreed multi-annual budgeting.

“Additionally, the Irish medicine market is not operating as it should. Many aspects of the Irish market are closed off from genuine competition or are subject to structural barriers which are impeding the market from functioning effectively.

“Uptake of biosimilars is just one example where Ireland is missing the opportunity to provide essential medicines to patients at a more affordable price.

“Biosimilars currently make up less than 1 per cent of the total market (0.6 per cent) for this type of medicines with more expensive biologics the remaining 99 per cent. As biosimilars can be up to 30 per cent cheaper, this makes no sense. This situation is exacerbated by both a national medicine pricing agreement which acts against the wider uptake of biosimilars and a lack of awareness amongst prescribers of the financial savings which could be realised.”

http://www.medicalindependent.ie/99514/medicines_for_ireland_manifesto_calls_for_radical_overhaul_of_medicines_policy


STATE OVERSPEND EXPOSED: HSE wastes hundreds of millions of euro on brand name drugs despite cheaper alternatives being available, it’s claimed

The Department of Health forks out billions of euro each year on biologic drugs

The State has wasted hundreds of millions of euro on brand name drugs despite cheaper alternatives being available, it is claimed.

The Department of Health forks out billions of euro each year on biologic drugs that are prescribed in hospitals for serious conditions such as debilitating arthritis.

But this cost could be slashed by more than 30 per cent if hospitals switched to prescribing near identical biosimilar meds.

In the same way as generic prescriptions are cheaper than name brand drugs in pharmacies, once a biologic’s patent ends then other companies are allowed to create similar drugs and release them onto the market for a better price.

For example, last year the Government spent more than €60million on 56,000 packs of biologic Enbrel, which treats serious conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Benepali is the biosimilar drug that has the same effect and is 30 per cent cheaper, yet the HSE handed out only 54 packs of the drug.

Such complex generics are used as best value practice by hospitals across Europe with 23 biosimilars on the market.

However just 11 of them are available in Ireland and less than one per cent of those are prescribed by our doctors.

The State’s bill for hi-tech meds has jumped from €170m in 2005 to more than €590m in 2016 — up ten per cent last year alone.

This year, Health Minister Simon Harris declared he will publish a consultation paper on the use of biosimilar drugs in order to try to make some savings in the next health budget.

Medicines for Ireland, a group of eight drug companies who are the largest suppliers of meds to the HSE, claim they’ve been shut out of talks with the Government.

The group sent a series of proposals to Mr Harris this week, pleading with him to start a bio-similar strategy for hospitals to switch to cost effective alternatives that could save hundreds of millions.

Medicines for Ireland also called on the Government to allow them be part of the negotiations in the National Medicine Pricing Agreement in order to drive down prices with market competition.

The group also hit out at the Department of Health for failing to develop a long-term plan on medicine supply in Ireland that has led to a growing problem with shortages and supply.

https://www.thesun.ie/news/1242457/hse-wastes-hundreds-of-millions-of-euro-on-brand-name-drugs-despite-cheaper-alternatives-being-available-its-claimed/


State needs new strategy to afford rising cost of medicines and new therapies

By Dominic Coyle, The Irish Times

Ireland needs a national strategy to cope with its rapidly rising medicines bill, especially if it hopes to afford a range of expensive new therapies coming to market in the next few years.
That’s the views of industry group Medicines for Ireland, which has called for a radical overhaul of medicines policy here.

The comment from the industry group, which represents manufacturers of generic and biosimilar drugs, come as a growing number of cutting-edge drugs are marooned at the desk of Minister for Health Simon Harris. Two weeks ago, Mr Harris said there were three drugs awaiting a decision from him on whether to push for additional funding at Cabinet. In figures released this week, he confirmed there were now nine drugs in that position.

Sources in the pharmaceutical sector say a further 14 novel drugs were coming through the approvals system but there appeared to be no scope in the medicines budget to pay for them. Another 40 medicines are likely to face similar problems next year.
The Minister has already persuaded his Government colleagues to find extra money to pay for cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi and leukaemia drug Ibruntinib.

Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly says the growing queue of drugs in financial limbo is a cause of concern, especially for patients waiting for treatment.
Launching its “manifesto”, Medicines for Ireland said reform is vital to safeguard patients. The current regime was leading to a growing number of drugs that were out of stock each year, it added.
“We spend over €2 billion each year on medicines, yet we have no long-term vision for how we spend this money or on what,” says Sandra Gannon, country head of generics group Teva and joint chairperson of the lobby group.

Opportunities ignored

Medicines for Ireland says that even with the current pressure on the health budget, the Government is ignoring opportunities to save money that could be used on newer drugs.

The State’s spending on high-tech biologic medicines has more than doubled to €662 million in the past 10 years, and Ireland currently ranks eighth in health spending per head of population among 35 OECD states.

However, the group alleges there is a lack of proper competition, citing the case of arthritis drug Enbrel – one of the biggest budget items on the HSE’s medicines bill.
One “biosimilar” drug, Benepali, entered the market in Ireland last September after Enbrel lost patent protection but, in May, it sold just 36 packs compared to 14,157 for Enbrel.

It wants the HSE to adopt a new biosimilar strategy which, it says, would unlock hundreds of millions of euro in savings in the years ahead, as well as a new accord on pricing with all industry players, not just the more established proprietary drug companies.


Leading Irish medicine suppliers join together to drive reform agenda

It was announced today that a new national healthcare organisation, Medicines for Ireland, has launched and is calling for a fundamental reform of medicine policy in Ireland.

The group has warned that without critical reforms and a long-term strategy for medicine procurement Irish patients will face increasing difficulty in accessing and affording life-saving medicines.

Medicines for Ireland is a grouping of key medicine suppliers including some of the largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE. The new organisation is a coming together of the memberships of Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association. Its members include Accord Healthcare, Consilient Healthcare, Clonmel Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan, Pinewood Healthcare, Rowa Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Recent research has shown that usage of generic medicines has grown from 11% to 53% over the last four years, with the State achieving hundreds of million in savings as a result. The new organisation is committed to continuing this reform momentum.

Medicine for Ireland’s focus will include the development of a longer-term vision for medicine procurement. The organisation hopes to introduce measures to urgently tackle the growing problem of medicine shortages (with currently over 140 medicines unavailable).

Furthermore, it hopes to create proactive initiatives to create greater competition in the medicines market, particularly hospital medicines where spend has grown from €315 million in 2009 to over €600 million in 2016.

The roll-out of a National Biosimilars Policy which expands the usage of biosimilar medicines, to counterbalance the unsustainable cost of biologic medicines is also planned. Medicines for Ireland is currently finalising a comprehensive policy document which will examine the critical issues facing medicine supply in Ireland and will publish its proposals in the coming weeks.

Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland, Sandra Gannon said, "Medicines for Ireland’s launch is a significant development. It marks the coming together of the leading players in the supply of medicines in Ireland. We are driven by and share the common objective of improving the supply, accessibility and affordability of medicines for Irish patients. To do so, we need significant reform."

She added, "Medicines now play a key part in helping Irish people live better and for much longer than ever before. With the growing importance of medicines, the issue of ensuring that Irish patients can access the treatments they need and the State can continue to pay for these medicines is crucial."

Source: www.businessworld.ie


Medicines for Ireland urges procurement reform as supply ‘increasingly at risk’

A new national healthcare organisation, Medicines for Ireland, has launched today and is calling for a fundamental reform of medicine policy in Ireland. The group has warned that without critical reforms and a long-term strategy for medicine procurement, Irish patients will face increasing difficulty in accessing and affording life-saving medicines.

Medicines for Ireland is a grouping of medicine suppliers including some of the largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE. The new organisation is a coming together of the memberships of Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association. Its members include Accord Healthcare, Consilient Healthcare, Clonmel Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan, Pinewood Healthcare, Rowa Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

According to Medicines for Ireland, its membership was to the fore in driving and implementing generic substitution in 2013. This policy change resulted in Ireland’s traditional low levels of generic medicine usage being dramatically reversed. Usage of generic medicines has grown from 11 per cent to 53 per cent over the last four years, with the State achieving hundreds of million in savings as a result, outlined the organisation.

Over the period ahead, Medicine for Ireland’s focus will include: Developing a longer-term vision for medicine procurement; Introducing measures to urgently tackle the growing problem of medicine shortages (with currently over 140 medicines unavailable); Proactive initiatives to create greater competition in the medicines market, particularly hospital medicines where spend has grown from €315 million in 2009 to over €600 million in 2016; and roll-out of a National Biosimilars Policy which expands the usage of biosimilar medicines, “to counterbalance the unsustainable cost of biologic medicines”.

Medicines for Ireland said it is currently finalising a “comprehensive policy document” which will examine the critical issues facing medicine supply in Ireland and will publish its proposals in the coming weeks.
Ms Sandra Gannon, Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland and General Manager of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, commented: “Medicines for Ireland’s launch is a significant development. It marks the coming together of the leading players in the supply of medicines in Ireland. We are driven by and share the common objective of improving the supply, accessibility and affordability of medicines for Irish patients. To do so, we need significant reform.

“Medicines now play a key part in helping Irish people live better and for much longer than ever before. With the growing importance of medicines, the issue of ensuring that Irish patients can access the treatments they need and the State can continue to pay for these medicines is crucial. Recent experience has shown such access is no longer guaranteed. Medicine shortages are becoming a worsening problem and increasingly our ability to pay for them is also at risk.”

“Several factors are threatening the supply of medicines to Irish patients. These include the spiralling cost of the High-Tech Medicines Scheme which has grown by almost €300 million in just seven years (€315 million in 2009 to over €600 million in 2016); increasing medicine shortages with over 140 medicines currently out of stock and the failure to embrace more affordable medicines such as biosimilars,” she added.

Mr Jeffrey Walsh, Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland and Commercial Manager, Pinewood Healthcare, said: ‘We believe that without fundamental reforms at Government, hospital and community levels in how we procure and supply medicines then the existing problems will accelerate. We need reforms across a range of areas including in our national pricing agreements, hospital pharmacy, the extent to which full competition in the market is fostered and in our resistance to adopt newer, more affordable medicines such as biosimilars.”

Noting Ireland’s “underdeveloped approach” to biosimilars and the failure to date of the promised public consultation on biosimilars to materialise, Mr Owen McKeon, Board Member, Medicines for Ireland and Country Manager of Mylan Ireland, said: “Time is running out for Irish policy makers to combat rising costs of biological medicines. Irish people have far less access to certain medicines that many of our European neighbours. It’s time for all stakeholders to come together to examine Medicines for Ireland’s proposals.”

Source: www.medicalindependent.ie


New Irish Generics Body Wants “Fundamental” Reform Of Medicines Procurement

by Ian Schofield, Pink Sheet

Two generic industry associations have merged to form a single body that includes the largest generic companies in Ireland. Medicines For Ireland has marked its creation by saying it plans to push for a reform of Irish medicines procurement policies, particularly in areas such as tackling drug shortages, and has called for action to promote the use of biosimilars.

A NEW GENERICS BODY

A newly formed Irish body representing generic and biosimilar companies says it will press for measures to tackle the growing problem of medicines shortages and stimulate competition in the market. It also wants to see the roll-out of the proposed National Biosimilars Policy in order to expand the use of biosimilars and counterbalance what it calls the “unsustainable cost” of biologic drugs.

The new association, Medicines for Ireland, has been created by amalgamating two existing bodies: the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association and the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance. Its members include Accord Healthcare Ltd., Clonmel Healthcare Ltd., Consilient Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan Laboratories Ltd., Pinewood Healthcare, Rowa Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

It says its priorities are addressing current drug shortages and creating the conditions for more competition in the pharmaceutical market, including by boosting biosimilar usage, as part of a “fundamental reform of medicine procurement.” It is currently finalizing a policy document on the critical issues facing medicines supply in Ireland, and says its proposals will be published in the coming weeks.

The focus of the proposals will be on:

Developing a longer-term vision for medicine procurement.
Introducing measures to urgently tackle the growing problem of medicine shortages.
Taking steps to create more competition in the medicines market, particularly in hospitals, where the association says spending has grown from €315m ($352m) in 2009 to more than €600m in 2016.
Ensuring the roll-out of a National Biosimilars Policy to expand the usage of biosimilar medicines and counterbalance the “unsustainable cost of biologic medicines.”

“Shortages are becoming a worsening problem” – Sandra Gannon, Medicines for Ireland

Sandra Gannon, manager of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland and joint chair of Medicines for Ireland, said the launch of the new group marked the “coming together of the leading players in the supply of medicines in Ireland.” A key aim, she said, was to improve the supply, accessibility and affordability of medicines, and that doing so required “significant reform.”

Gannon highlighted in particular the question of ongoing drug shortages, saying these were becoming “a worsening problem.” According to the association, more than 140 medicines are currently unavailable.

Shortages have been an issue for some time. In a presentation to a European Medicines Agency workshop on shortages in October 2015, John Lynch, director of compliance at Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority, cited some of the reasons as the cost of Irish-specific packs, re-evaluation of the profitability of a product in the Irish context following product divestments, and changes to pack design and livery. He also mentioned increases in parallel trade of certain products as a result of downward pressure on drug prices (which in some cases can also lead companies to withdraw a product from the market for profitability reasons).

According to the Irish Pharmacy Union, a survey of its members in 2016 showed that 99% of pharmacists had experienced drug shortages in the previous three months, and that often pharmacists had no prior warning that medicines were going to be out of stock or any indication when they might be available again.

The IPU too cited parallel trade as a factor, saying that “falling medicine prices are adding to the problem as more medicines are either being exported out of the country to other jurisdictions where medicine prices are higher, or are simply not being supplied.” Among other things it recommended that the government prepare “a contingency plan to consider certain export controls should medicine shortages arise.”

Biosimilars And High-Tech Medicines

Another factor “threatening the supply of medicines to Irish patients” is “the failure to embrace more affordable medicines such as biosimilars,” Gannon said. Her view was echoed by the other joint chair of the new body, Pinewood Healthcare’s commercial manager Jeffrey Walsh, who said that action needed to be taken to tackle “resistance to adopt newer, more affordable medicines such as biosimilars.”

“Time is running out for policy-makers to combat the rising costs of biological medicines” – Owen McKeon, Mylan

Owen McKeon, country manager of Mylan Ireland, spoke of the country’s “underdeveloped approach to biosimilars and the failure of the promised public consultation on biosimilars to materialise,” saying time was running out for policy-makers to combat the rising costs of biological medicines.

The Irish government has promised a National Biosimilars Policy to address the slow development of the biosimilars market – health minister Simon Harris said in September last year that the Department of Health was developing a policy to “create the right market conditions that will enable the biosimilar industry to grow.” And in February this year, Harris said the policy, which is expected to address issues such as switching, pharmacy substitution, traceability, and education of healthcare professionals, would be put out for consultation in the first quarter. (Also see "Biosimilar Firms Say Irish Price Deal Hinders Uptake, As Govt Plans New Policy Measures" - Pink Sheet, 10 Feb, 2017.)

But there is still no sign of the policy. A spokesperson for the department told the Pink Sheet in May that the consultation was “still in the development stages” and that it would be launched “in the near future.”

Also jeopardizing the supply of medicines, Gannon said, was the “spiralling cost of the High-Tech Medicines Scheme,” under which certain high-cost drugs such as TNF inhibitors are reimbursed and where spending has grown by almost €300m over seven years.

Under the scheme, community pharmacies order certain expensive drugs directly from pharmaceutical companies, which are then reimbursed directly by the Health Service Executive. The pharmacies receive a monthly fee for overseeing their patients’ care.

Total spending on the scheme in 2014, including the patient care fee, was €485m, an increase of almost 50% compared with 2009, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Second Name Change

This is the second name change for the Irish generics industry in recent years. In June 2015, the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Ireland was relaunched as the IGMA. (Also see "Irish generics association gets new name" - Pink Sheet, 15 Jun, 2015.) At that time the IGMA consisted of Accord Healthcare, Actavis Ireland, Clonmel Healthcare Ltd, Fannin Ltd, Hospira Ireland, Rowex Ltd and Pinewood Healthcare.

Published originally by Pink Sheet and available here


Alliance of generic drug makers warns supply reforms needed

by Paul Cullen, The Irish Times

Group claims patients may face increasing difficulty accessing lifesaving medicines.

A new alliance of generic drug manufacturers has warned that Irish patients will face increasing difficulty accessing lifesaving medicines without reforms to the way they are supplied.
Medicines for Ireland is an amalgamation of the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers’ Association.
Its members include the State’s largest generic drug maker, Teva Pharmaceuticals, as well as Clonmel Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan and Pinewood Healthcare.
The group is calling for a longer term vision for medicine procurement, measures to tackle shortages of over 140 medicines, and initiatives to create competition in the medicines market.
The cost of hospital medicines has grown from €315 million in 2009 to over €600 million last year, it points out, while the spend on high-tech drugs has grown by 90 per cent.

Rollout
The group is also seeking the rollout of a national biosimilars policy to expand the use of biosimilar medicines, to counterbalance the “unsustainable” cost of biologics.
Its stance is likely to be resisted by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, which largely represents the multinational manufacturers of branded, on-patent drugs, including biologics.
IPHA last year agreed a four-year drug price deal with the Health Service Executive that is expected to yield price savings of about €700 million.
However, the spiralling cost of new treatments means the HSE is unable to provide all the drugs coming on the market. As a result, competition is intensifying between the different sectors of the market.
Medicines for Ireland says its members were to the fore in driving generic substitution in the health service from 2013. Usage of generic medicines has grown from 11 per cent to 53 per cent over the past four years.
The new organisation says it is committed to continuing this reform momentum.


A New National Healthcare Organisation

Medicines for Ireland urges fundamental reform of medicine procurement as supply increasingly at risk

  • Leading Irish medicine suppliers join together to drive reform agenda
  • Reforms vital to safeguard patients, as medicine shortages, access and affordability a growing concern
  • 90% increase in spend on High-Tech scheme adds to growing affordability crisis

A new national healthcare organisation, Medicines for Ireland, has launched today (Monday, 19 June) and is calling for a fundamental reform of medicine policy in Ireland. The group has warned that without critical reforms and a long-term strategy for medicine procurement Irish patients will face increasing difficulty in accessing and affording life-saving medicines.

Medicines for Ireland is a grouping of key medicine suppliers including some of the largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE. The new organisation is a coming together of the memberships of Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association. Its members include Accord Healthcare, Consilient Healthcare, Clonmel Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan, Pinewood Healthcare, Rowa Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Medicines for Ireland’s membership was to the fore in driving and implementing generic substitution in 2013. This policy change resulted in Ireland’s traditional low levels of generic medicine usage being dramatically reversed.  Usage of generic medicines has grown from 11% to 53% over the last four years, with the State achieving hundreds of million in savings as a result. The new organisation is committed to continuing this reform momentum.

Over the period ahead, Medicine for Ireland’s focus will include:

  • Developing a longer-term vision for medicine procurement;
  • Introducing measures to urgently tackle the growing problem of medicine shortages (with currently over 140 medicines unavailable);
  • Proactive initiatives to create greater competition in the medicines market, particularly hospital medicines where spend has grown from €315 million in 2009 to over €600 million in 2016; and
  • The roll-out of a National Biosimilars Policy which expands the usage of biosimilar medicines, to counterbalance the unsustainable cost of biologic medicines.

Medicines for Ireland is currently finalising a comprehensive policy document which will examine the critical issues facing medicine supply in Ireland and will publish its proposals in the coming weeks.

Sandra Gannon, Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland and General Manager of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland commenting on the launch of the group noted:

‘Medicines for Ireland’s launch is a significant development. It marks the coming together of the leading players in the supply of medicines in Ireland. We are driven by and share the common objective of improving the supply, accessibility and affordability of medicines for Irish patients. To do so, we need significant reform.

Medicines now play a key part in helping Irish people live better and for much longer than ever before. With the growing importance of medicines, the issue of ensuring that Irish patients can access the treatments they need and the State can continue to pay for these medicines is crucial.

Recent experience has shown such access is no longer guaranteed. Medicine shortages are becoming a worsening problem and increasingly our ability to pay for them is also at risk.

Several factors are threatening the supply of medicines to Irish patients. These include the spiralling cost of the High-Tech Medicines Scheme which has grown by almost €300 million in just seven years (€315 million in 2009 to over €600 million in 2016); increasing medicine shortages with over 140 medicines currently out of stock and the failure to embrace more affordable medicines such as biosimilars’.

Jeffrey Walsh, Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland and Commercial Manager, Pinewood Healthcare, added:

‘We believe that without fundamental reforms at Government, hospital and community levels in how we procure and supply medicines then the existing problems will accelerate. We need reforms across a range of areas including in our national pricing agreements, hospital pharmacy, the extent to which full competition in the market is fostered and in our resistance to adopt newer, more affordable medicines such as biosimilars’.

Noting Ireland’s underdeveloped approach to biosimilars and the failure of the promised public consultation on biosimilars to materialise, Owen McKeon, Board Member, Medicines for Ireland and Country Manager of Mylan Ireland commenting on the launch of the group noted:

‘Time is running out for Irish policy makers to combat rising costs of biological medicines. Irish people have far less access to certain medicines that many of our European neighbours. It’s time for all stakeholders to come together to examine Medicines for Ireland’s proposals’.


Lobby group pushes bigger uptake in generic drug

by Susan Mitchell; The Business Post

A new national organisation seeking reform of the government’s existing medicines policy will launch this week.

The group, called Medicines for Ireland, results from a merger of large pharmaceutical suppliers and includes members of the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association.

Accord Healthcare, Consilient Healthcare, Clonmel Healthcare, Fannin Healthcare, Mylan, Pinewood Healthcare, Rowa Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals are among the members.

The companies produce generic medicines and biosimilar medicines, which can be used in place of expensive biologics.

Medicines are typically manufactured through chemical synthesis. Biologic medicines differ as they are derived in some way from living organisms. They include vaccines issues, blood and blood components, as well as gene therapy.

Usage of generic medicines – which are identical copies of the original brand name drugs that are typically sold at cheaper prices – has increased significantly in Ireland recent years.

This has been fuelled by government legislation designed to encourage generic substitution and make savings.

However, Ireland’s uptake of biosimilars remains low, even though spending in this area has increased.

Medicines for Ireland is expected to up pressure on health minister Simon Harris to facilitate the use of more biosimilars, which are typically cheaper than the original.

At a recent event, Sandra Gannon, general manager of Teva Ireland, said uptake of “better value biosimilar medicines is extremely low. Competition is being stifled and prices are higher than they need to be.”

Gannon claimed that reforms to Government policy on biologics could “save the HSE as much as €168 million annually.”

Members of the Medicines for Ireland group are frustrated by the failure of health minister Simon Harris to launch a public consultation on biosimilars, which was promised at the end of February.

Medicines for Ireland is expected to publish a set of policy proposals over the coming weeks and will be urging the Minister and Department of Health to enact them.