Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (403)

John Curran


403. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the actions he is taking to increase the use of biosimilar drugs in order to get more value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

My Department and the HSE are engaging in a number of initiatives which will endeavour to 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 which will require the involvement of stakeholders from across the health service. I expect that my Department will make progress in this regard in 2019.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 culmination of these initiatives is a greater uptake in the usage 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.

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