New rules to improve access to generic medicines

Pharmacies to be legally obliged to substitute branded medicines with cheaper drugs

An Irish Medicines Board  survey found eight out of 10 consumers would accept a generic medicine if offered it by their doctor or pharmacist. Photograph: PA Wire

An Irish Medicines Board survey found eight out of 10 consumers would accept a generic medicine if offered it by their doctor or pharmacist. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Pharmacists will be legally obliged to substitute branded medicines with cheaper, generic drugs within months.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said assessments are under way on the county’s top 20 active substances that make up approximately 1,500 individual medicines.

The cholesterol-lowering drug Atorvastatin (Lipitor) will be the first one available under the scheme, by mid August, with two to three following each month after.

Pat O’Mahony, IMB chief executive, said specialist staff have been preparing for the introduction of the generic substitution legislation in recent months.

“Generic medicines meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original branded medicines,” he said.

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013 was signed by President Michael D Higgins last week and is expected to commence later this month, when consultations and assessments begin.

Under the system, the IMB will publish a list of interchangeable medicines on its website showing those medicines that can be safely substituted by pharmacists.

The first 20 active substances were selected by the Department of Health on the basis of overall cost to patients and the State, which spends some €2 billion on drugs each year.

A Department of Health spokesman said it is not possible to estimate the possible savings from the new legislation.

Meanwhile, an IMB survey found eight out of 10 consumers would accept a generic medicine if offered it by their doctor or pharmacist, while nine out of ten who previously used generic medicines said they had a positive experience.

It also revealed GPs (64 per cent) and pharmacists (31 per cent) are the most trusted sources of medicines advice.

However it also found one in four people were not familiar with the term ‘generic medicine’ and that 17 per cent of respondents would not accept a generic if offered it by their healthcare professional.

“The main reason cited by those who would not accept a generic medicine is their lack of understanding of generic medicines,” added Mr O’Mahony. “The increased focus on generics that is accompanying the introduction of the new legislation will help to address this.”

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.