Cheaper Generic Medicines Needed In Ireland by Annette J Dunlea
A generic medicine is a medicine that is similar to an original, brand name medicine. It has the same active ingredient as the original medicine, and is made to the same standard to make sure it is safe and effective.When a pharmaceutical company develops a new original medicine, it takes out a patent.The patent is a legal agreement that prevents other companies from making or selling the same medicine for a number of years.The new medicine usually has a unique name or brand. It can also be called a ‘proprietary’,a ‘reference’ or an ‘originator’ medicine.When a patent’s time period comes to an end,other pharmaceutical companies can make a similar version.A generic medicine must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original medicine.GeGeneric versions of a medicine may have different colours, flavours or combinations of non-active ingredients compared to the original productneric versions of a medicine may have different colours, flavours or combinations of non-active ingredients compared to the original product.
A generic medicine must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original medicine.Generic medicines must go through a number of checks to be sold in Ireland.They must be authorised by the regulator.As the national regulator, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) authorises, or approves, medicines before they can be used in Ireland. The IMB also monitors the safety of medicines available in Ireland once they are in use. If your doctor or pharmacist has prescribed or dispensed a generic medicine, you can be sure it is as safe and effective as the original product.They must have the same intended effect on the body as the original product.The result or benefit of using the generic medicine must be the same as the result when using the same dose of the original medicine.A company must complete scientific studies to prove that its generic medicine has the same effect as the original, branded medicine. The IMB reviews the results of these studies before it allows a generic medicine to be sold in Ireland.
For a small number of products, it is not advisable to take different versions of the medicine. This is because your body gets used to the version you are currently taking. Your doctor and pharmacist will tell you if you should not change to a generic version of a medicine you are taking. The IMB strongly recommends that you never buy either an original or a generic medicine over the internet. There are no guarantees that medicines bought online are effective, safe or of an acceptable standard of quality, so these products can pose serious health risks to those who use them.
The Irish health service continues to pay more than the NHS for the same medicines.The overall cost of medicines to the State is close to €2 billion per annum.It’s emerged the HSE and the Irish taxpayer is paying around 12 times more than the NHS in Britain for generic drugs.According to reports it’s because of a deal sanctioned by the Department of Health two years ago, whereby generic drug manufacturers can charge the state up to 98 per cent of the price of the original branded medicine.The HSE pays 37 euro for a generic version of the blood thinning medicine Plavix.Whereas, the NHS in Britain pays just 3 euro for the same tablets.The Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Ireland says the reason prices are higher here is because generic drugs have a low market share in Ireland and because the Irish Medicines Board insists manufacturers much package their products uniquely for Ireland.This needs to be changed urgently, to save our vital health finances.The HSE’s bills for medicines would save the State at least €50 million this year if it were able to buy the drugs for the price obtained by the National Health Service in Northern Ireland or Britain.A comparison of generic drugs shows that generic manufacturers are charging Ireland twelve time more than the NHS for certain meds.Here is a price list comparsion for the same drugs and quantities in N.Ireland and in the Republic Of Ireland.
Lipitor/Altorvastatin – UK Price €7.80 – Irish price €24.08
Zoton/Lansoprazole – UK price €2.60 – Irish price €22.14
Zypreza/Olanzapine – UK price €76.38 – Irish price €162.36
Losec/Omeprazole – UK price €1.98 – Irish price €13.41
Plavix/Clopidogrel – UK price €2.93 – Irish price €37.14
Tritace/Ramipril – UK price €1.63 – Irish price €4.86
Ciprimal/Citalopram – UK price €1.65 – Irish price €17.90
Zocor/Simvastatin – UK price €1.21 – Irish price €5.58
Lamictal/Lamotrigine – UK price €7.11 – Irish price €38.29
Effexor/Venlafaxine – UK price €4.75 – Irish price €37.99
Many private patients are paying too much for their drugs from pharmacies.
Under the new Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods Bill, the HSE will be tasked with the responsibility for setting a common reimbursable price for groups of medicines and it is only this reference price which will be reimbursed by the State. The legislation introduces the concept of co-payment by patients for items above the reference price. It provides that Medical card patients who choose the more expensive branded medicines over cheaper generic alternatives will be responsible for the difference between the purchase price and the reference price. The Bill is also intended to benefit private patients who could save money where their pharmacist suggests substituting a cheaper alternative to the medicine prescribed by their GP.The HSE will establish and maintain a reimbursement list of all the medicines that are provided by the HSE under the GMS Scheme or Drug Payment Scheme and only items on the reimbursement list can be supplied under those schemes. The HSE will be permitted to attach conditions to the supply of certain items, provided that any restrictions are evidence-based and in the interests of patients and ensuring value for money. It is intended that all items currently on the HSE reimbursement list will automatically transfer but the legislation provides the HSE with the right to review any item on the reimbursement list at any stage. The legislation also provides that new drugs can be added to the reimbursement list by making an application to the HSE. Under the new Bill the HSE has discretion to supply an item that is not on the reimbursement list, subject to that item meeting particular criteria.
Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods Bill will end the current system where a chemist can only dispense the exact drugs named on a prescription written by a doctor and presented by a patient.Under the new system, a pharmacist will be able to dispense a cheaper generic alternative to the drug, as long as the Irish Medicines Board has identified the alternative as having the equal effect and as meeting safety guidelines.The Bill sets out statutory procedures governing the supply, reimbursement and pricing of medicinal products to patients under the General Medical Services and Community Drugs Schemes. It is intended to promote competition between generic medicines and to ensure value for money in the supply of medicines. The Bill is likely to pass into law by the end of the year.Under the present system, pharmacists are not permitted by law to provide medication other than the brand provided for on the prescription.The new laws would also enforce a reference price for a group of interchangeable medicines, seeking to ensure that eligible patients do not face extra costs for cheaper products.Patients who want to receive a familiar brand of medication which costs more than its generic equivalent,however, would be personally forced to cover the additional costs.The legislation also contains new rules governing the supply of drugs to Medical Card holders and those on community drugs schemes, giving the HSE the power to attach terms and conditions to the supply of some items, as long as those restrictions are “evidence-based and in the interests of patients”.The government hoping to complete the Oireachtas’s examination during the autumn session.
For those who don’t have a medical card they can avail of the Drugs Payment Scheme.Under the Drugs Payment Scheme, an individual or family in Ireland only has to pay €132 each month for approved prescribed drugs, medicines and certain appliances for use by that person or his or her family in that month. The amount is determined from time to time by the Minister for Health and Children. If you have a GP Visit Card or do not have a Medical Card you should apply for a Drugs Payment Scheme Card. This scheme is aimed at those who don’t have a Medical Card and normally have to pay the full cost of their medication. Anyone ordinarily resident in Ireland can apply to join the scheme, regardless of family, financial circumstances or nationality. Being ordinarily resident in Ireland means that you have been living here for a minimum of one year or that you intend to live here for a minimum of one year.The definition of a family for this scheme, is an adult, their spouse, and any children under 18 years. Dependents over 18 years and under 23 years who are in full time education may also be included. Everyone ordinarily resident in Ireland without a Medical Card should have a Drugs Payment Scheme Card.You will not pay more than €132 for all your prescribed approved medication each calendar month. You do not have to register with a particular Pharmacy for the scheme but for convenience it is advisable to use the same pharmacy in a particular month if you wish to avoid paying more than the maximum amount per month.Where people need to use two or more pharmacies in one month, they can claim back the amount paid over the threshold from a central HSE Office.Apply to DPS Refunds, PO Box 12012, Finglas, Dublin 11,.You can also download a claim form on www.drugspayment.ie and also check on the status of a refund you’ve submitted.If you lose or misplace your Drugs Payment Scheme Card, contact your Local Health Office for more information.There are a number of items that legally do not require a prescription but for inclusion under the scheme they do require a doctor’s prescription.You can obtain a form from your local pharmacy, health centre or online from the HSE website.
Causes Annette Dunlea Supports
The National Council of The Blind, Ireland