Access to new drugs which combat life-threatening illnesses is to be tightened as part of a cost-cutting measure, health officials in Ireland have said.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) hopes to save €100m a year by slashing the price it pays for drugs and putting greater emphasis on the benefit-to-cost ratio.
HSE chief executive officer Professor Brendan Drumm said the old “liberal” system, which gave relatively easy access to new drugs, was unsustainable.
“There’s absolutely no doubt in the past we have run a remarkably open policy in terms of allowing drugs access without carrying out those analyses, and as we go forward that type of analysis will be much more routinely applied,” he insisted.
Outlining reasons for the move, he added: “The overall cost of drugs has increased hugely across the developed world, especially in areas like cancer where new drugs have come on stream at a remarkably fast rate over the last 10 or 15 years – and those drugs have been extremely expensive.
“We are going to have to be much more careful going forward to ensure that these drugs carry the type of benefit that justifies the actual money we pay.”
But the Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) claims the move will lead to the closure of pharmacies in rural locations throughout the country.
IPU chairman Dermot Twomey commented: “Pharmacists have already been informed by medicine wholesalers that the number of deliveries to pharmacies will be reduced.”
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