Patients on drugs for depression could save up to €200

HSE encouraging use of cheaper but equally effective drugs

The HSE has identified two commonly used medicines as its “preferred drugs” to treat depression and anxiety

The HSE has identified two commonly used medicines as its “preferred drugs” to treat depression and anxiety

 


Patients who need regular medication for depression and anxiety can save up to €200 a year by switching to cheaper but equally effective medications, according to a senior drugs adviser at the Health Service Executive.

The HSE yesterday identified two commonly used medicines as its “preferred drugs” to treat the conditions. Both medicines cost less than half the price of the most popular drug in their class, but Prof Michael Barry, clinical lead of the HSE’s medical management programme, says they are equally safe and efficacious.

This is the latest announcement in the programme, which aims to encourage doctors and other prescribers to recommend cheaper but equally effective drugs, thereby saving the health service money. Since last year, preferred drugs have been identified in six areas of medicine, which account for 20 per cent of the overall drugs bill. The annual savings so far have been about €20 million.

The preferred drugs identified yesterday are Citalopram, used to treat depression, and Venlafaxine, for patients with anxiety. Currently, the State spends more than €55 million a year on over 2.3 million prescriptions in these two drug classes.