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Warnings from GPs and pharmacists on medicine shortages need be taken seriously – Medicines for Ireland

Medicines for Ireland (MFI) are urging Government to heed recent warnings from GPs and pharmacists nationwide on the growing risk of medicines shortages as inflation, energy and transport costs continue to rise, and global supply chain disruptions persist.

Medicines for Ireland members are the suppliers of the majority of medicine in Ireland to the HSE and patients directly and played a pivotal role in a new Framework Agreement on the supply and pricing of non-originator, generic, biosimilar, and hybrid medicines, announced by Government last year.

Commenting on increasing medicine shortages, Medicines for Ireland Chairperson, Padraic O’Brien has said “In Ireland and throughout Europe, soaring energy costs, inflation and supply chain disturbances have contributed to thousands of generic medicines disappearing from the European and Irish market.”

“MFI members are willing to work directly with Government to help tackle this serious issue and prevent potential medicines shortages. Our aim is to deliver industry insights and extend our expertise to help improve the development of medicinal pricing and procurement policies in Ireland and safeguard the supply of medicines to Ireland.”

According to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) website there are currently 187 medicines in short supply in Ireland. Without intervention this situation has the potential to significantly worsen.

Mr O’Brien 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”.

“Price adjustments in Ireland are historically downward only, where other European countries employ flexible pricing mechanisms that allows reimbursement prices to rise for medicines that are in short supply.  Ireland does not have such a mechanism and is therefore further disadvantaged.”

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.

 “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. 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.” concluded Mr O’Brien.


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