Dr. James Reilly, Minister for Health and Mr. Alex White T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Care in the Department of Health, today (Monday 24th June) announced the commencement of the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.
This Act provides for the introduction of a system of generic substitution and reference pricing. It also sets out statutory procedures governing the supply, reimbursement and pricing of medicines and other items to patients under the GMS and community drug schemes.
Minister Reilly said that “The commencement of this Act provides the Irish Medicines Board and the HSE with a robust statutory framework for the introduction of generic substitution and reference pricing on a phased basis. This legislation will provide much greater access to generic medicines in Ireland and will reduce medicine costs for patients and for the State. Generic Substitution will be introduced incrementally, with the IMB prioritising those medicines which will achieve the greatest savings.”
Minister White added that “The Irish Medicines Board will review an initial 20 active substances, which equates to approximately 1,500 individual medicines. It is expected that the first List of Interchangeable Medicines, containing groups of atorvastatin products, will be published within 2 months from today, in mid-August. The IMB will publish subsequent lists for other groups of medicines on an ongoing basis. The HSE will then set a reference price for these groups with a view to having the first reference prices implemented by November. From the end of the year onwards, hundreds of thousands of prescriptions will be subject to generic substitution, which will offer choice and reduced prices to patients.”
Aside from the cost savings objectives of this Act, patient safety is at the centre of what is being delivered under this legislation. The IMB carries out a detailed review of generic and brand medicines, and ensures that they are safely interchangeable and satisfy all the conditions set out in the Act, prior to publishing a list of interchangeable medicines. To further enhance patient safety, the Act allows a prescriber to indicate on a prescription that a particular interchangeable medicinal product should, for clinical reasons, not be substituted.
This legislation will promote price competition, a greater use of generics and deliver lower medicine prices for the taxpayer and for patients.