HSE urges patients to switch to cheaper meds
Heart patients can save up to €200 a year by switching to “preferred drugs”
About €4 million a year will be cut from the State’s annual drugs bill if doctors switch to the “preferred drugs” recommended in the HSE’s medicines management programme.
Patients with heart and high blood pressure problems can save up to €200 a year on the cost of their medication by switching to cheaper but equally effective drugs, the HSE has advised.
About €4 million a year will be cut from the State’s annual drugs bill if doctors switch to the “preferred drugs” recommended in the HSE’s medicines management programme, it said.
Two drugs used to treat heart failure and hypertension were yesterday included in the programme as preferred drugs.
Ramipril is the preferred ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitor while Candesartan has been selected as the preferred ARB (angiotenin II receptor blocker).
The programme is one of a number of initiatives being pursued by the HSE to reduce the State’s €1.7 billion annual drug bill. Other elements include the introduction of reference pricing from November, and new price agreements with branded and generic drug-makers.
Spending on ACE inhibitors and ARBs is over €40 million a year, with 100,000 patients on each type of medication.
The first phase of the medicines management programme was unveiled this year when Lansoprazole was chosen as the preferred proton pump inhibitor and Simvastatin as the preferred statin medicine.
The HSE is hoping to make annual savings of €17 million by encouraging prescribers to switch patients to the four preferred products.
Some doctors have warned that interfering with a patient’s normal medicine use could cause unnecessary stress.
However, Dr Michael Barry, national clinical lead for the programme, said the aim was to encourage switching for new patients and where a change of medication was required anyway. “But if a patient’s blood pressure is settled, we’re not telling them to change the prescription.”
Mr Barry said the greater use of preferred drugs would boost the optimal use of healthcare resources.
“We can make savings in this area without inflicting harm on frontline services.”
Asked whether consumers could expect the prices of generic drugs to fall significantly as a result of various initiatives under way, Mr Barry said: “We’re getting there.”