Patients wait longer for new medicines in Ireland than in Europe – Ipha

Industry study tracks 15 drugs that have yet to be approved by the HSE for use in Irish hospitals

Patients in Ireland are waiting three times as long as those in some other European countries to get access to certain medicines, according to an analysis by industry body the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (Ipha).

Ipha, which represents research-led pharma industry in Ireland – mostly large multinationals – looked at the dates on which medicines were approved in each of the 14 countries against which prices for Irish drugs are set.

It chose 15 medicines which have completed their “value for money” pharmacoeconomic assessment in Ireland but that have yet to get the green light from the HSE for reimbursement.

According to figures presented to Ipha’s ‘Innovate For Life conference at Croke Park on Thursday, each of the medicines in the study has been approved for use and payment in, on average, 10 out of the 14 countries. Irish prices are set at the average of the price across this basket of countries, subject to HSE sanction.



According to Ipha, patients in these 14 countries countries were able to access these medicines in an average of 289 days from the date they were licensed by the European medicines Agency. However, in Ireland, patients have been waiting an average of 843 days so far to get access to the same medicines.

“That’s almost three times as long – a difference of 18 months on average,* Ipha said.

It said that five of the 15 medicines are manufactured either entirely or in part in Ireland. Nine of the drugs treat various forms of cancer, two are for multiple sclerosis, two are for heart disease and two are for gastrointestinal diseases.

None of the medicines were identified.

"When it comes to introducing new medicines into the health services, Ireland is 'slow and late'," said Ipha president Aidan Lynch.

He called for a new medicines policy ahead of a new pricing and supply agreement.

“ The new agreement between industry and the State is an opportunity for the industry and the State to partner on a solution. We must accelerate access to new medicines for patients and secure pricing and funding certainty so medicines are both affordable and available. We must integrate the adoption of new medicines with a longer-term vision for the future of the industry,” said Mr Lynch.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times