Switching from name-brand drugs could save €125m in budget, pharmacists say

The Irish Pharmacy Union also says if they were allowed to deal with some routine complaints, GPs could be freed up for more complicated work.
Switching from name-brand drugs could save €125m in budget, pharmacists say

The Irish Pharmacy Union says a policy on "biosimilar" drugs has been promised for years, but never delivered.

Pharmacists say €125 million a year could be freed up in the health budget by switching from name-brand drugs to similar ones made in Ireland.

The Irish Pharmacy Union says a policy on these "biosimilar" drugs has been promised for years, but never delivered.

Mr O'Loughlin says the government is dragging its heels when it could be saving money.

"If we look at what we are spending on expensive biological medicines which are high-tech drugs and absolutely essential and are giving people enormous quality of life and lengthening life with serious illness but we are still paying too much for them.

"We could use medicines called biosimilars which are clinically identical, which do exactly the same thing and if we switched over to those - which the government said they would do three years ago - we could have saved €370 million by now."

The group also says if they were allowed to deal with some routine complaints, GPs could be freed up for more complicated work.

Its secretary-general Darragh O'Loughlin says it works well in the North.

"Minor ailment schemes identical to what they have in the North and in Scotland.

"People don't need to go to the doctor for a minor ailment that doesn't necessarily need a doctor. They can get treatment directly from their pharmacist.

"In Ireland, despite years of promises from government, we still haven't introduced a minor ailment scheme so people with minor ailments in Ireland are still having to go to the doctor to get treatment that should be available to them without a prescription."

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