The HSE National Service Plan 2019 includes a provision of €10m for new drugs enabled by an “invest to save” programme. In accordance with the National Service Plan, the HSE is committed to the introduction of cost reduction measures to create the financial headroom, for new drugs in 2019.
To assist the HSE in creating this financial headroom, the National Service Plan 2019 includes a provision of €3m for the establishment of a HSE dedicated pharmaceutical value improvement programme, to bring about greater efficiencies in medicines management and to promote changes in prescribing behaviour in favour of more clinically efficient and cost-effective products in both community and hospital settings.
These new measures are expected to complement existing cost control initiatives which are being undertaken by the HSE under the auspices of the Medicines Management Programme. Among the initiatives already being pursued are improvement in practices for the procurement of drugs in hospitals and the designation of preferred products, with a focus on high cost prescribing areas.
In 2019 to date, the HSE has approved 26 new medicines and 5 new uses of existing medicines, 17 of these medicines are for rare diseases.
In spite of significant progress on drug costs achieved from reference pricing and the price reductions under the IPHA Agreement, the Health Service is still facing significant challenges in relation to the affordability of medicines – mainly related to the emergence of increasing numbers of very expensive products, particularly in the high-tech medicines area.