Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Questions (231)

John Curran

Question:

231. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health when in 2019 he expects to bring forward a policy statement in order to increase the use of biosimilar drugs in order that better value for money is achieved in the purchase of medicines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28360/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department and the HSE are engaging in a number of initiatives which will lead to better access to medicines for patients, value for the taxpayer and the cost- effective provision of medicines in Ireland.

A public consultation on a National Biosimilar Medicines Policy was undertaken by my Department in 2017. The responses to that consultation and other possible policy levers are being considered by my Department, with a view to developing a National Biosimilar Medicines Policy statement.. At an operational level, the HSE's Acute Hospitals Drugs Management Programme has a biosimilar strategy in place since 2017, which is making considerable progress using a collaborative approach with hospital pharmacists and clinical teams to bring about changes in prescribing practice. In that respect, hospitals are working towards a targeted minimum prescribing rate for biosimilars of 50%.

The HSE is also working on identifying barriers to the prescribing of biosimilars, with a specific focus on education and support. It is seeking to increase understanding of biosimilars through targeted presentations to clinicians and hospitals.

The objective of these initiatives is a greater uptake in the use of biosimilars and this is evident by hospital dispensing data. For example, the prescribing rate for the biosimilar drug Infliximab has increased from 5% in 2017 to 40% in 2018. I am informed that, since the introduction of the Medicines Management Programme's biosimilar guidelines on 1 June 2019, more than 100 patients have already moved to biosimilar medicines.

My Department proposes to build on these positive developments and to bring forward a policy statement that would support and complement the many initiatives which are already underway.