Big Pharma and HSE need to take a chill pill over drug prices

The framework agreement signed a year ago has not brought the two sides together

The Framework Agreement on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines offered the Government savings on drug prices, especially on older medications

The Framework Agreement on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines offered the Government savings on drug prices, especially on older medications

 

Just one year ago today, the Government and the body representing Big Pharma, the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), signed a new framework agreement setting prices for medicines in Ireland.

The accord had been a long time coming and, at one point, an exasperated HSE had started writing to companies threatening to impose price cuts of up to 30 per cent on individual drugs unilaterally.

The Framework Agreement on the Supply and Pricing of Medicines offered the Government savings on drug prices, especially on older medications, as well as using a bigger basket of countries to set prices. Savings of up to €750 million over four years were promised. The IPHA says it has delivered on its commitments, delivering €140 million in savings to the health budget already.

For the IPHA, the benefit of the agreement was that the drugs being developed by its member companies would get access to the Irish market. And there’s the rub. In the 12 months since the deal was signed, a growing number of drugs are being referred to the Minister for Health. The HSE says they should be available but it has no budget to pay for them.

Just two of these drugs has made it to market; another nine are waiting for the Minister to find some cash. Fourteen more are working their way through the system.

The HSE says the budget is spent, taken up by greater volumes of existing drugs. The drug companies respond that medicines budgets are taking no account of changing demographics and the need to spend more on medicines.

Relations between the two sides are deteriorating sharply, with what was termed a “crunch” meeting last week ending in stalemate.

The issue for the companies is that there is little incentive for it to deliver savings to the State if it cannot get its expensively-developed new drugs to market. All in all, it’s a poor way to mark an anniversary. Compromise is required: the question is where will it come from.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.