Mylan urges Government to boost take-up of biosimilars

Drugmaker says approving more biosimilar drugs for use here could save the State €140m a year

Generic drugmaker Mylan has called on the Government to boost its efforts in approving biosimilar drugs for use here in a move that could save the State around €140 million a year.

The US/Dutch company with a number of operations in Ireland said some Irish hospitals had already opted to purchase biosimilar medicines, but that the "legislature are lagging behind their own HSE".

A biosimilar is a biologic medical product almost identical to the original and manufactured by a different company. The products are manufactured once the original comes off patent.

Mylan's country manager Owen McKeon said Ireland was lagging significantly behind Europe in the take-up of biosimilars where an estimated €1.5 billion in savings have been achieved since 2006, equating to the employment of approximately 40,000 nurses.


“Biosimilar medicines have proved their value to patient care right across Europe for over a decade now. They are playing a key role in providing increased access to and more affordable medicines to patients and national health services. Yet in Ireland we have failed to embrace this change, and are now falling far behind our European colleagues.”


Medicines for Ireland, of which Mr McKeon is chairman, this month noted that the cash-strapped health service was missing out on almost €140 million in savings on its medicines bill by failing to encourage competition by generic drugs.

“We need our policymakers to now implement strategies such as biosimilar quotas or gainsharing schemes to proactively help healthcare professionals and patients make the shift from expensive biologics to more affordable biosimilar medicines,” Mr McKeon said.

“With the prospect of a €600 million deficit facing the HSE this year alone, which will impact on the quality of patient care, we cannot afford to ignore the potential of biosimilars to deliver real savings which can be allocated to HSE frontline service.”

Five facilities

Mylan operates five facilities in Ireland, employing over 1,700 staff. The $18 billion company has research and development facilities in Dublin, and is the largest employer in the Galway Gaeltacht with its injectable product manufacturing facility in Inverin.

The company is the largest manufacturer of HIV Aids medicine in the world and distributes a range of products including epipens, used for the treatment of severe allergic reactions.*

* This article was amended on July 30th, 2018.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business