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Accessing new medicines

Ireland is to work with other EU Countries to secure affordable access to new medicines for Irish patients.

The Valletta Declaration, signed this month by Health Minister, Simon Harris, along with Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Romania, commits these countries to work together to explore possible ways to guarantee access to new medicines for patients.

The Declaration was signed at the 3rd Roundtable meeting in Malta of EU Health Ministers and CEOs and Heads of Europe-based pharmaceutical companies.

It is in line with the Minister’s stated objective since coming into office to work with other countries to make medicines available to patients at affordable prices.

Under the Valletta Declaration, a Technical Committee will be established, to explore possible areas for cooperation including information sharing, horizon scanning and possible price negotiations and joint procurement. The first meeting to take place in June

Minister Harris said, “Since coming into office I have seen the challenges our health service and, more importantly, patients have experienced in terms of access to new medicines at an affordable price. International collaboration is key to addressing this issue. The Valletta declaration marks a concrete step forward in this regard. Ireland will continue to build on this and our relationship with other member states in our efforts to secure affordable access for Irish patients to innovative medicines.”

The Minister believes a sustainable pharmaceutical system in Europe is one where patients can secure access to new and innovative treatments at an affordable price. “Innovative medicines play a key role in improving the health of our population. A situation must not be allowed to develop where innovative products never reach the patients as health systems cannot afford the price being sought,” he said.

“Potential solutions from Ireland’s perspective include increased collaboration between member states, greater transparency on real prices, research costs and access programmes, outcomes-based models where the health system only pays for treatments when they deliver the desired benefits to patients and also greater competition in the off-patent space.”

The Minister’s comments followed agreement between the HSE and Vertex on the commercial terms for the supply to Irish patients from this month of Orkambi (for CF patients aged 12 years and older) and for Kalydeco (for patients aged 2-5) and for other treatments and age cohorts following market authorisation in Europe.