Kenny and Reilly met major drug firm chiefs

Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 00:00

Both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Health James Reilly met representatives of international pharmaceutical firms based here last summer, their desk diaries show.

The Irish Times reported yesterday that the Government was subjected to an intense lobbying campaign by the pharmaceutical industry in February and March over a HSE decision not to approve new drugs for payment. The Taoiseach was warned the decision could have implications for 25,000 jobs and future investment.

A spokesman for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (Ipha) said the industry was extremely concerned earlier in the year that new medicines were not being made available to patients, “despite an agreement between the State and the industry”.

Cabinet members

In many case, the products manufactured in Ireland were not accessible to patients here, he said. The companies involved conveyed their “concerns” directly to the Taoiseach and senior members of the Cabinet.

“The situation was resolved in June, when the industry provided the State with the necessary funding to recommence the reimbursement of these products,” the Ipha spokesman said.

Dr Reilly met Andrew Hotchkiss, European boss of Eli Lilly, last June 27th, according to his diary. This also shows that he attended a meeting between the Taoiseach and representatives of Abbott Ireland in the Taoiseach’s private office on July 4th.

Board dinner

Mr Kenny’s diary also shows he attended the Eli Lilly board dinner at the Old Kinsale golf club on June 27th, 2011.

The recent deal between the Department of Health and manufacturers will cut the cost of drugs to the State by about €190 million, Minister for Health James Reilly clarified yesterday. While the deal was worth €400 million, the Government had decided to make a significant reinvestment in cutting-edge drugs for patients costing €70 million a year over three years, a spokesman for Dr Reilly said.

Responding to an article in yesterday’s Irish Times which said the deal would be worth less than half the €400 million headline amount announced in October, the spokesman said Dr Reilly had never claimed it would produce this level of savings.

He said the Minister had decided the best interests of patients would be served by ensuring access to cutting-edge drugs at a cost of €210 million.

At the time of the deal with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, Dr Reilly said it had a value of over €400 million over three years.