Medicines play a vital role in improving the overall health of Irish patients. Securing access to new and innovative medicines in a timely manner is a key objective of the Irish Health Service. The OECD report on Pharmaceutical Innovation and Access to Medicines draws on an evidence-based assessment of the current performance of the pharmaceutical innovation system, and presents a critical analysis of policy options for reforms to promote access and sustainability. Officials in the Department are aware of this report.
Ireland is already engaging in a number of the recommendations contained in the report through its international agenda, most notably through its membership of the Beneluxa initiative. The Beneluxa collaboration seeks to enhance patients' access to high quality and affordable treatments, improve the payers' position in the market through joint negotiations, increase transparency on pricing between the collaborating countries, share policy expertise and focus on knowledge building.
Members of the Beneluxa Initiative will work closely together to identify pragmatic solutions to the challenges which we all now face with medicine pricing, sustainability and supply.
The OECD Report also contains recommendations relating to policy options to address the current challenges and advocates for engagement between the State and Industry. I believe that partnership with industry is key to improving access to new medicines. At the last bi-annual meeting between my Department and the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) a proposed dialogue was discussed. It is envisioned that this will take the form of a structured platform of engagement, building a stronger partnership between the State and industry to create better patient access to new treatments.
An Open Policy Forum also took place on Thursday 15 November 2018 with the Department of Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Department of Health and the IPHA.
I look forward to more engagement over the course of the year with the aim of building a fairer partnership between industry and the State to help ensure that Irish patients get sustainable access to new medicines in as timely a manner as possible.