Fine Gael National Press Office
Press Statement by Jerry Buttimer TD
Cork South Central
Thursday, 21st March 2013
Funding models must be adapted as medicine moves from the general to the personal – Buttimer
Speaking at a conference this afternoon (Thursday) on Innovation and Patient Access to Personalised Medicine, Fine Gael Cork South Central Deputy and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Health, Jerry Buttimer, said that as medicine moves from the general to the personal we must ensure that funding models are adapted to take account of the changes being made.
“Increasingly we are moving away from blockbuster drugs, where one-size-fits-all, to a medical system which focuses on the individual person and their specific personal. As these changes are occurring we must move towards a system where the increased presence of personalised medicine can be matched by appropriate funding models. Our reimbursement systems must facilitate this transition from general to personalised medicine.
“In the last century the major breakthroughs were in the areas of mass vaccination, today’s advances are often targeted to specific groups of patients, to specific mutations. The same funding models which were appropriate for large scale programmes may not be as effective in delivering access to personalised medicine.
“In attempting to meet the challenge of personalised medicine all stakeholders; clinicians, industry, regulators, Governments and policy makers, must ensure that funding models which maximise the reach and benefit of personalised medicine are in place.
“Although personalised medicine has the potential to deliver very significant health benefits it also has the potential to increase costs. Drugs are now being developed to target smaller groups of patients with the result that the cost of the drug or treatment for the patient is significantly higher
“Smaller numbers of patients benefitting from new drugs reduces the economic return and consequently puts at risk the financial investment from industry. If we are to maximise the benefits of personalised medicine we must ensure that there is a sufficient return for those who invest in product development.
The Government’s Money Follows the Patient Model for healthcare providers, which will see hospitals being paid based on the level of activity and the number of patients they treat, will take account of this. It will recognise that high cost cases occur and that high cost drugs and treatments are sometimes required. Supplementary funding for certain high cost drugs will also need to be considered, while taking account of existing initiatives and the increasing role of technology.
“The convergence of technology into healthcare applications, which companies like Tyndall National Institute in Cork South Central are engaged in will enable the personalised and targeted treatment of illness. As our population ages we need to seek the best ways of addressing this issue so that we can continue to meet the healthcare needs of all our people.”