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Exorbitant cost of medicines must be tackled – Ó Caoláin

19 March, 2013 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking at Leinster House before the Oireachtas Health Committee begins its debate on the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the Bill, which facilitates the use of generic medicines, is a step forward but much more needs to be done.

He also described as ‘farcical’ the decision to rule out of order key amendments he had submitted to exempt epileptic drugs from the legislation.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“The HSE and individual customers are being ripped off with the price of medicines in this State. Recent revelations have shown the HSE paying up to 24 times more than the NHS in the North & Britain for the same generic medicines, while the HSE is reimbursing pharmacists for generic drugs at inflated prices, even though it is now reported that pharmacists are receiving discounts of up to 90% from manufacturers.

“The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill is a long overdue step forward in that it facilitates greater use of generic medicines. But if the excessive price of generics themselves is not tackled then the savings to the HSE and to patients will be minimal. Much more needs to be done and Health Minister James Reilly must revisit current agreements with the pharmaceutical manufacturers who are clearly profiteering massively in the Irish market.

“Today's Committee Stage of the Bill has been reduced to farce by the ruling out of order of key amendments that I tabled which would exclude drugs for epilepsy from the Bill. This arises out of very serious concerns raised by people with epilepsy that in the case of anti-seizure drugs there is a danger that generic substitutes do not match the precision of the original patented drugs.

“These amendments have been ruled out of order by the Oireachtas Bills Office on the grounds that they would cost the State money and thus can only be moved by a Minister. I dispute this but I will be urging Minister of State for Health Alex White to take heed of the concerns of people with epilepsy and to adopt these amendments himself.”


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