Sep 24, 2015

Medicine reforms could deliver €129 million savings if will exists

Medicine reforms could deliver €129 million savings if will exists

  • New healthcare group publishes reform proposals
  • HEA proposals could fund 3,000 new nurses or 2,000 new nursing home places
  • Group seeks participation in Government’s drug pricing negotiations  

€129 million in savings could be achieved if the State’s medicine procurement processes are reformed, a newly formed healthcare group said today.  

The savings are part of a number of reform proposals published today by the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance (HEA). 
The group, comprising healthcare leaders who have delivered over €200 million in savings to the State’s medicines’ bill in the past two years, has been formed to promote reforms in the Irish health sector. 

Speaking at its launch this morning, which was attended by the Director General of the Health Service Executive, Tony O’Brien, the HEA confirmed that it has written to the Minister for Health requesting participation in the Government’s drug pricing negotiations process. Mr. O’Brien speaking at the event acknowledged the contribution which the HEA could add to the wider healthcare reform agenda. 

Speaking at the launch of its reform proposals, Sandra Gannon, HEA President said: 
‘We have seen in recent years what can be achieved by bringing a reforming ethos to medicine prescribing, dispensing and pricing. Our proposals, which can deliver savings of almost €130 million, are a continuation of this ethos.  

‘The Department of Health and HSE is commencing negotiations which will determine the price of medicines in Ireland for the next five years. Every cent counts in our health service, so it is important that any agreement delivers the best outcome for patients and taxpayers. Against this backdrop, our proposals are both timely and relevant.’

Key HEA proposals include:

  • Switching from high-cost biologic medicines to equivalent, more affordable biosimilar medicines (saving €40 million);
  • Opening up the €200 million low-value medicines market to competition (saving €60 million);
  • Treating all new patients with a generic medicine from the outset (saving €11 million);
  • Incentivising GPs to prescribe more cost-effective medicines (saving €18 million).

The HEA said that its proposals can reduce the State’s €1.3 billion annual medicines bill spent by 10%. Such a saving - €129 million - could meet the cost of 3,000 new nurses or 2,000 extra nursing home places for one year.

Ms Gannon said:

‘Every year, we see the challenge of matching healthcare demands against the available budget. This reality requires all stakeholders to think and act smarter about how limited resources are allocated.

‘The HEA is seeking to make a positive contribution to the decision making process. Our proposals are all easily implementable if the will exists to do so. They are the norm in other countries. What is required is a willingness by decision makers to make change happen. We would welcome the opportunity to engage with Government to discuss our proposals further’, concluded Ms Gannon.


For more information:

Amanda Glancy, PR360 01 6371777/087 2273108

Edel Fitzgerald, PR360 01 6371777/086 7761615

Note for editors

Full policy available on request, see contact details above.

Facts about the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance (HEA)

The HEA is a grouping of industry leaders active in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector in Ireland. Active in the provision of medicines in Ireland and globally, they have a wealth of experience of partnering with the HSE, Department of Health, healthcare professionals and pharmacy.

The HEA’s objective is to affect positive change in the delivery of healthcare services and medicines to patients.

Member companies are some of the largest suppliers of prescription medicines in Ireland. Members manufacture and supply prescription medicines, medical devices and OTC medicines. They have a combined, and growing, 15% share of the Irish medicine market and exports of over €1.3 billion per annum. They directly employ over 2, 000 people in Ireland.

Members companies include Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland (Teva), Mylan and Krka Pharmaceuticals.

Track record

The evidence from recent medicine reforms in Ireland, such as reference pricing and generic substitution, has shown that reform can be effective in improving patient access to medicines and in delivering savings for the Exchequer. It is estimated that the introduction of generic substitution and reference pricing has delivered savings of €210 million.

Last Updated:  30/09/2015