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Thread: The great drugs rip-off

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    Politics.ie Member Hewson's Avatar
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    Default The great drugs rip-off

    Listening to an interview on Drivetime this evening on the cost of prescription drugs in Ireland versus the cost of the same drugs in the UK, I was dumbfounded to hear that our bankrupt state is currently forking over between 6 and 24 times more than our nearest neighbour for the same products. That some of these products are made here makes this anomoly all the more bizarre.

    Ireland is fourth in an OECD table of costs for its spend on drugs, behind the US, Canada and, strangely, Greece.

    The following piece from an Irish Times article dated last August is, putting it mildly, disturbing. Highlighted text my own:


    Under the proposed Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012, pharmacists will soon be able to substitute drugs themselves, while the introduction of reference pricing – which is already common in other countries – will mean that if medical card patients want to receive a familiar brand that costs more than the reference price, then they will have to pay the additional cost.

    It has been suggested that this could lead to savings of up to €100 million a year.

    So far so good you might say, although there is likely to be some opposition to the legislation.

    According to a spokesman for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), which represents the makers of branded drugs, pharmaceutical companies would like to see more clarification on the Bill and are hoping to get some amendments as it goes through the process of being enacted.

    Some in the industry argue that allowing pharmacists to substitute prescriptions takes away the clinical decision-making authority of doctors.

    More problematic however, is the fact that even if branded drugs are replaced with their generic equivalent, it won’t necessarily lead to any great savings.

    This is because the current agreement between the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Ireland (APMI) provides that generic medicines can be priced at up to 98 per cent of the originator product.

    So in some cases, even if the generic alternative is offered, the Government can expect to make savings of just 2 per cent.

    Indeed a recent report suggested that the HSE pays about 12 times more than the NHS in Britain for generic drugs.
    While the HSE, top heavy with layers of pen-pushers clogging up the lines of direct action, lumbers from one crisis to another, the question arises as to just who is presiding over the continuing rip-off of the Irish taxpayer through the purchase of common drugs at outrageously inflated prices, and why?

    It's not enough to lay the blame for this robbery at the door of the Health Minister. This is a failure of government.
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    Politics.ie Member tigerben's Avatar
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    I can't understand why there isn't a deal with ordering between HSE and The NHS . Surely a list of medicines can be given to them , ordered with their order and then dispatched here!

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    Politics.ie Member dizillusioned's Avatar
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    We were told it was the Pharmacists, the real problem is the contracts with the Pharmaceutical companies.

    Perhaps I am a little "niaive", I have always thought all this FDI by them was as a result of negotiations on the price being charged in Ireland to the likes of the HSE.

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    Politics.ie Member linny55's Avatar
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    Was buying tablets the other day and the chemist said we have generic ones at from what i can remember €25 instead of €42

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    Politics.ie Member wombat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizillusioned View Post
    We were told it was the Pharmacists, the real problem is the contracts with the Pharmaceutical companies.

    Perhaps I am a little "niaive", I have always thought all this FDI by them was as a result of negotiations on the price being charged in Ireland to the likes of the HSE.
    Get real, the Irish market is tiny, pharma companies make their profits on making raw materials in Ireland and selling them on to their finishing plants. Our biggest problem is with the distribution system in Ireland.

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    Politics.ie Member Hewson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dizillusioned View Post
    We were told it was the Pharmacists, the real problem is the contracts with the Pharmaceutical companies.

    Perhaps I am a little "niaive", I have always thought all this FDI by them was as a result of negotiations on the price being charged in Ireland to the likes of the HSE.
    The pharma companies will take as much as they can screw out of their customers. The question is why are Irish governments easier to screw over than others?

    And this isn't confined to just drugs either. Across a range of products, from periodicals to fruit and veg, Irish consumers are being taken for a ride.
    Abortion is an act of violence. Violence demeans humanity, particularly violence against women and children.

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    Politics.ie Member fontenoy's Avatar
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    Sorry wrong thread I thought someone had copped on to the missing gramme con my local weed dealer is at

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    I have to say I'm almost getting tired of hearing about this issue. As will anyone who reads the Sunday Business Post.

    Susan Mitchell, their health correspondent, has some kind of crazy fetish about the issue. Every single week (and I mean EVERY SINGLE WEEK) she has a full-page spread on drug pricing.

    I wouldn't mind, only it is a stupefyingly boring issue compared to the other myriad problems facing the health service.

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    I thought this was gonna be about Dunphy and the price of cocaine.

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    Politics.ie Member Hewson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat View Post
    Get real, the Irish market is tiny, pharma companies make their profits on making raw materials in Ireland and selling them on to their finishing plants. Our biggest problem is with the distribution system in Ireland.
    I can buy a pack of Paracetamol in Spain for a quarter of its price here. Same product, same maker.

    The distribution system in Ireland doesn't explain anything and equally small markets, like Belgium or Luxembourg, don't incur the same costs.

    It's an Irish phenomenon.
    Abortion is an act of violence. Violence demeans humanity, particularly violence against women and children.

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