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Irish drug prices 'now matching European average' - drugs firms

Market research commissioned by pharmaceuticals firms suggests its members’ medicines match an average European price.

Image: Uros Zunic via Shutterstock

A GROUP OF pharmaceutical manufacturers based in Ireland has claimed that the price of drugs in Ireland is roughly equal to an average of other EU countries.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IHPA) says market research carried out by an independent firm clashes with other claims that Irish customers pay significantly more for patented medicines than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe.

The study claims that when the prices of 200 drugs – which account for 99 per cent of the on-patent segment of the pharmaceuticals market – were compared in nine European countries, Irish prices were roughly equivalent to the average.

Crucially, however, the study examined the ‘ex-factory’ price of the drugs paid by commercial pharmacies, and not the price paid by everyday customers at a pharmacy.

The study effectively points the finger for high street pharmacists, believing it is only through their mark-up that Irish customers are asked to pay more than other Europeans.

IHPA said the study was evidence that the new agreement between the government and pharmaceutical companies was working, and delivering the savings promised.

The agreement, signed last October, was due to save €400 million in three years.

The study also investigated the price of generic drugs – which can be manufactured by any drugs company, as the patent held by the original company has lapsed – and concluded that these were “significantly more expensive” in Ireland than in any other country.

IHPA said this showed there was still savings to be forced on the part of the government, which covers the costs of medicines for medical card holders.

“By definition, copy medicines should be much cheaper as indeed they are in other countries. However this study confirms that in Ireland, they are 50% above the average of the prices in the nine countries,” Brennan said.

“Given the fact that the study has shown that the price of generics is out of line, there is potential for the State to recoup annualised savings of between €50 and €70 million and so ensure that the future funding of, and access to, innovative products for Irish patients is possible.”

Read: Anticipated HSE savings of €362m in drug payments, agency staff ‘did not materialise’

More: Irish people warming up to generic medicines

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Gavan Reilly

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