Ireland, in common with many other jurisdictions, has experienced a significant level of debate regarding generic drugs and the use of “reference pricing” by state-sponsored medical services providers and Community Drugs Schemes (CDS). Government proposals on this topic were recently clarified in the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medicines) Bill, published on 16 July 2012. In a year where the Health Service Executive has overspent by €280 million, the Government sees the introduction of this legislation as a means of promoting competition between suppliers of interchangeable medicines and achieving greater reductions in the medicines bill for the State.

The objective of the Bill is to:

  1. establish a list of groups of interchangeable medicinal products, which may be substituted for each other;
  2. alter the duties of prescribers and dispensers of medicines to facilitate the operation of the reference pricing system; and
  3. establish a list of medicines and medical and surgical appliances that may be supplied to patients under the General Medical Services Scheme (GMS) and CDS, and create mechanisms for setting the prices of those reimbursable items. 

As the Irish Parliament is in summer recess until 18 September 2012, there will be no legislative progress on the Bill until after that date.  It is next due to go before the Irish Senate for debate.  We expect that the Bill will be subject to significant lobbying and debate and propose to track and update you on any significant changes, as the Bill progresses through the legislative process.

For a more detailed overview of the Bill, please click here.

The full text of the Bill can also be viewed here.