Medicines for Ireland (MFI) have highlighted the growing risk of medicines shortages as inflation, energy and transport costs continue to rise, and global supply chain disruptions persist.
According to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) website there are currently 186 medicines in short supply in Ireland. Without intervention this situation has the potential to significantly worsen.
The Medicines for Ireland, Pre-Budget Submission 2023 sets out recommendations to tackle and prevent any potential shortages. These include enhancement of national pricing and procurement policies to help mitigate the risk of medicine shortages; exploring the possibility of the establishment of a National Medicines Reserve; and the extension of the 0% VAT rate that currently applies to certain oral medicines and non-oral medicines.
Commenting on MFI’s Pre-Budget Submission, Chairperson Padraic O’Brien said, “The greater use of generic medicines in Ireland helps patients access high quality treatments at considerably lower costs, it also produces significant savings for the State”.
“However, skyrocketing inflation, supply chain disturbances and soaring energy costs have created unforeseen challenges for the generic medicines sector across Europe including Ireland, resulting in thousands of generic medicines disappearing from the market”.
“According to our sister association Medicines for Europe, several countries around the EU are experiences shortages, for example Romania have seen 2000 medicines disappear from the market and in Belgium one in five medicines available last year, are now no longer available.”
He added, “As a small market Ireland is more likely to be badly impacted by inflationary pressure and as costs continue to rise, market conditions will become increasingly unviable for companies supplying generic medicines to Irish hospitals and pharmacies. Additionally, in some cases, our reimbursement prices for certain medicines are too low compared to other EU countries and price adjustments in Ireland are historically downward only. This adds to unsustainable market conditions for suppliers.”
A recent MFI members survey found that 91% of MFI members experienced increased costs associated with import and/or manufacturing of pharmaceutical and medical products for the Irish market in 2022. While all MFI member companies envisage increases in transportation costs over the next 12 to 24 months.
Expanding on the pre-budget submission, O’Brien said, “MFI’s aim is to deliver industry insights and extend our expertise to help improve the development of medicinal pricing and procurement policies in Ireland. We believe it is time for us to revisit our work with Government and the HSE on the Framework Agreement on Supply and Pricing and develop improvements to mitigate against supply risks”.
“Our main focus is to help Government ensure market conditions in Ireland remain sustainable in order to retain and secure access to reliable and affordable treatment for Irish patients. MFI members are willing to work directly with Government to help tackle this serious issue and prevent potential medicines shortages.” concluded Mr O’Brien