Question to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr Alex White)
To ask the Minister for Health when he anticipates that the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medicines) Bill 2012 will complete its passage through the Oireachtas; when he expects the Bill to be enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 16th April, 2013.
The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012, which is currently before the House, provides for the introduction of a system of generic substitution and reference pricing. The Bill passed Committee Stage in the House on the 19th of March and Report Stage is scheduled for the 23rd of April. I hope that the Bill will complete its passage through both Houses shortly thereafter.
The key aim of the legislation is to ensure value for money in the supply of medicines; therefore, the medicines that will be reviewed first are most costly to patients and the Exchequer.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has been asked by the Department of Health to prioritise consideration of the classes of medicines that give rise to the greatest costs. Twenty of these medicines have been identified. They include statins, proton pump inhibitors, angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers. The drugs involved are:-
As soon as the legislation is commenced, the IMB will begin compiling Lists of Interchangeable Medicines. As required by the legislation, Marketing Authorisation Holders will be consulted on the proposed groups of interchangeable medicines and will have 28 days to comment. It is anticipated that the first List of Interchangeable Medicines will be published on the IMB website within 2-3 months of the commencement of the legislation. It is my intention that the review of the first 20 medicines will be completed as soon as possible, subject to compliance with the strict timelines set out in the legislation.
It is not possible, at this juncture, to provide accurate figures regarding potential savings resulting from the introduction of generic substitution and reference pricing, as these depend on various factors including prevailing prices, number of competitors, availability of substitute products, and market dynamics.
The Department is committed to establishing high-level annual targets by the end of September for the share of generic penetration over the medium-term. These targets will be informed by the findings of a report currently being completed by the ESRI which is examining the usage of generics in Ireland and comparable EU jurisdictions.
The Health Information Bill, which is expected be ready for publication later this year, will deal, in conjunction with the Data Protection Acts, with the governance and use of health information so as to improve patient care and safety and to facilitate the achievement of wider health service goals.