Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (128)

Maureen O'Sullivan


128. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the way in which Ireland was represented at the meeting of the 72nd World Health Assembly held on 20 to 28 May 2019 in Geneva; the stance Ireland took on an issue (details supplied); the policy Ireland will continue to pursue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27956/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I am informed that the Irish delegation to the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly was led by the Irish Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations at Geneva. The delegation included officials from the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Securing affordable and sustainable access to new and innovative medicines is a challenge that is not unique to Ireland. Many countries are battling with the same issues. Ireland has been at the forefront of international engagement on this critical issue, trying to build consensus with our EU partners across a number of forums.

In March 2019, Italy presented a draft resolution on improving the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines and other health related technologies. This proposed a number of actions relating to pharmaceutical policy, including that the World Health Organisation would support member states in collecting, analysing and creating standards for information on prices, reimbursement costs, clinical trials outcome data and costs of relevant policy developments.

On 28 May 2019, the resolution was adopted by consensus at the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly, with Germany, Hungary and the UK abstaining.

I welcome Italy’s commitment to addressing the challenges which exist in accessing new and innovative medicines.  Mutual cooperation between member states represents one of the best opportunities we have to tackle medicine expenditure and to deliver new and innovative treatments to our patients.

The Programme for Government is committed to “drive down costs to provide new treatments, drugs etc” and to “look at opportunities for leveraging purchasing power either through national or European initiatives”.   

Ireland has been actively involved in international collaboration for the last number of years, working to build consensus at a European level on this key issue. In particular, Ireland's membership of the Beneluxa Initiative offers an important platform from which to deliver the shared objective of securing access to high cost, innovative treatments.