The cost of medicines: Group aims to cut drug prices

IT is very difficult to balance the attraction and the high cost of a revolutionary drug that may or may not help a patient with the wider obligations of those responsible for service resources. 

That is especially so, and emotional if you are the patient whose treatment is predicated by value-for-money equations. The views of those trapped on a long waiting list for relatively cheap treatment while drugs costing multiples of their needs are supplied to individuals are no less fraught.

So too are the views provoked by comparing the cost of medicines in Ireland with the cost of those drugs in other European Union countries. It does not take too long to establish that though the EU may be many things it is not a single market. The cost of some drugs in Ireland is, inexplicably, far higher than it is in other EU member states.

This issue is so alive that a new lobby proposes to tackle issues with supply, access to and affordability of medicines. Medicines for Ireland (MfI), an amalgamation of the Healthcare Enterprise Alliance and the Irish Generic Manufacturers Association, has warned that, unless the goalposts are moved, Irish patients will face “increasing difficulty” in accessing and affording life-saving medicines.

Anything that makes drugs more affordable is to be welcomed but judgement on this initiative might be best reserved as so many pharma firms are involved — their hopes are not always in the best interests of consumers after all.


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