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Patients must be at the centre of drug purchasing policy – O’Reilly

3 August, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin TD and Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly has raised her concern over the difficulties caused to patients and the health service over the high cost of medicines, especially when it comes to medicines for rare or acutely debilitating diseases, and called for patients to be put front and centre when it comes to drug purchasing policy. 

Deputy O’Reilly said: 

“The recent refusal of the HSE to fund Translarna, a drug to treat muscular dystrophy, has again highlighted two significant problems when it comes drug purchasing. It highlighted the difficulties faced by the Health Service Executive when it comes to purchasing drugs from large pharmaceutical companies, particularly when it is a drug treatment for rare or acutely debilitating diseases, and it also brought into to focus the need for a more patient centred drug purchasing policy. 

“The cost of medicines has been a serious issue for some time now, only recently the European Parliament passed the ‘Report on EU options for improving access to medicines’, which criticised the cost of medicines and the conduct of large pharmaceutical companies, stating: ‘…in many cases, the prices of new medicines have increased during the past few decades to the point of being unaffordable to many European citizens and of threatening the sustainability of national health care systems’.

“In recent times, this has become an acute problem for the health service and it is then patients and their families who suffer. 

“It is of the utmost importance that patient considerations are put front and centre by the HSE, the government, and pharmaceutical companies when it comes to drug purchasing policy. 

“The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognises the fundamental right of citizens to health and medical treatment, and all involved should recognise that and ensure that the right is upheld. 

“I believe there is further need for the re-evaluation of our drug purchasing policy and further exploration of the possibilities of co-operation among EU countries for bulk purchasing and to counter large pharmaceutical companies who seek to profiteer off the illnesses and difficulties of vulnerable people.” 

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