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Patients being ripped off on medicine costs - Ó Caoláin

8 August, 2014 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D., claims public and private patients are being ripped off when it comes to paying for medicines due to the failure of successive Governments to address spiralling prices.

The Cavan/Monaghan TD made the claims following reports in the Sunday Business Post that public and private patients pay up to 17 times more than those living in the North for some generic off-patent medicines. Minister Leo Varadkar also admitted this week that more must be done to bring prices down.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

"Susan Mitchell of the Sunday Business Post has done the Irish taxpayer a considerable service by continuing to highlight the exorbitant prices residents of this state have to pay for medicines, compared to our Northern neighbours and European counterparts.

"The algorithm to decide on medicine prices is a very complex one which involves an on-patent branded drugs agreement negotiated with the IPHA, an off-patent generic drugs agreement negotiated with the APMI, as well as consideration of pre and post manufacture costs and reference prices in other EU countries.

"Sinn Féin has for years, including through our annual Pre-Budget Submission, advocated a different approach from Government whereby the lowest rather than the average basket price is referenced. This approach, which is also recommended in the ESRI's 2012 report Delivery of Pharmaceuticals in Ireland – Getting a Bigger Bang for the Buck, would save up to 25% on medicine costs.

"Furthermore, and importantly, I am absolutely certain that the inability of successive Ministers to adequately negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry, including the IPHA, has resulted in a terrible deal for the taxpayer, and correspondingly, for private patients.”

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