Health Committee to consider the cost of prescription drugs with key stakeholders

The cost of prescription drugs in Ireland was on the agenda of the Oireachtas  Joint Committee on Health and Children when it met with representatives from pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and academic voices.

Prof Colum Dunne, GEMS Director of Research, was invited by the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children to appear before the Committee on Thursday 6th March to discuss the price of prescription drugs in Ireland. The discussion and supporting material used were generated by research completed and published by a GEMS team that included Prof Colum Dunne and Dr Suzanne Dunne.

The meeting was held into two sessions. The first session, commenced included the following witnesses:

  • Kathy Maher, President and Darragh O’ Loughlin, Secretary-General, Irish Pharmacy Union (the representative and professional body for community pharmacists
  • Dr Leisha Daly, President and Oliver O'Connor, Chief Executive, Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (international research-based pharmaceutical industry in Ireland)
  • Sandra Gannon, General Manager and Aideen Kenny, Head of Commercial Operations, Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland (a leading generic pharmaceutical company globally)

The second session included:

  • Shane O' Sullivan, Chief Executive, Healthwave;
  • Martin Gallagher, President, The Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Ireland (which represents producers of generic pharmaceuticals); and
  • Professor Colum Dunne, Foundation Chair & Director of Research, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick

Committee Chairman Jerry Buttimer TD says: “The meeting comes on foot of growing public commentary on the relatively high cost of prescription drugs, the affordability of hi-tech drugs for rare diseases, and usage levels of generic drugs in Ireland. At various stages, the EU-IMF, the ESRI, and the Minister for Health have publicly highlighted cost issues in respect of Irish patented and generic drugs, relative to our European counterparts. We want to question key stakeholders on whether Irish patients are paying over the odds for pharmaceutical products, and whether further measures need to be taken in this area. So the meeting tomorrow will explore the underlying reasons behind the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, the effectiveness of reference pricing and generic substitution in Ireland with a range of witnesses.”

 “As well as hearing from pharmacists, and representatives from branded and generic manufacturers, the Committee also gained from the presence from Professor Colum Dunne from the University of Limerick, who recently co-authored research on prescriber behaviour in Ireland."